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La Jota Vineyard Merlot Howell Mountain 2018

ID No: 448481
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 Wine Spectator: 95 95 Points
Country:France
Regions:California
California (Napa)
Winery:La Jota
Grape Type:Merlot
Organic:Yes
Vintage:2018
Bottle Size:750 ml
Product Description

La Jota Vineyard Merlot Howell Mountain is made from 100 percent Merlot. 

Sourced from vineyards with pedigrees dating back to the 1800s, this wine continues to carry the torch of Howell Mountain’s greatness. e aromatics are lifted with plum, huckleberry and minerality leading the way. Bittersweet chocolate and dried herbs add the punctuation to an incredibly long balanced finish.

Due to a fantastic growing season on Howell Mountain, the La Jota Merlot shows incredible concentration while demonstrating finesse and balance on the palate. This red wine is an incredible example of mountain Merlot. This powerful mountain wine exhibits mocha and black cherry while on the palate one finds blackberry, and blueberry pie with volcanic minerality. This Red Wine has a Cork closure. Alcohol Content: 14.5% Pairs with leg of lamb, rich tomato based sauces and grilled vegetables. The La Jota Vineyard lies high upon a volcanic plateau, looking east over Napa Valley. Surrounded by pine, fir, oak and madrone trees, the estate stands out because of its cool, windswept climate. Here we look to vineyard blocks that produce soft-textured Merlot for wines of earlier approachability, and where the decomposed granite soils of our W.S. Keyes Vineyard impart a pop of bright fruit character and broader tannins. We hand-harvested grapes into small, 30-pound boxes to prevent crushing, and then we brought them to the winery for hand-sorting. After destemming and light crushing, the must was cold-soaked for gentle color, flavor and tannin extraction. Winemaker Chris Carpenter fermented the juice with native yeast in a combination of open and closed-top stainless steel tanks. Following gentle basket press, the wine underwent in-barrel malolactic fermentation, rounding the acidity and integrating the vanilla character of French oak. The wine was barrel-aged for 20 months and bottled unfined and unfiltered.


Reviews:
Refined, rich and powerfully structured flavors of cherry, currant and dried raspberry are tensile, supported by firm acidity and tannins. Ends with a minerally flourish on the firm finish, with notes of savory herbs. Best from 2022 through 2027.

-Wine Spectator 95 Points


In general, 2018 was a great vintage for this variety, and the deep purple-hued 2018 Merlot is stunning stuff. Lots of cassis, candied violets, scorched earth, and graphite notes give way to a medium to full-bodied, beautifully textured, elegant 2018 with polished tannins, no hard edges, and a great finish. It’s going to evolve for 15 years or more.

Jeb Dunnuck 95 Points

 


A firm, silky red with blackberry, blueberry and hints of black and green olives and herbs. Medium-to full-bodied with fine, chewy tannins and a fruity finish. Drink or hold.

- James Suckling 95 Points

Winery: La Jota

La Jota Vineyard Co. was founded in 1898 by Frederick Hess, an immigrant from Switzerland, who established a German-language newspaper in San Francisco. No doubt influenced by other European immigrants involved in California's nascent wine industry, Hess purchased 327 acres of a Mexican land grant—Rancho La Jota—on Howell Mountain to plant vineyards. He built the stone winery from volcanic ash rock quarried on the property; his first fermentation tanks also came from the estate, from a stand of nearby coastal redwoods.

The rocky, shallow soils, the abundance of wind and fog, and the remoteness of Howell Mountain terroir were reminiscent of Europe where some of the best wines in the world were being produced. Hess, along with other early pioneers, believed that Napa Valley could achieve the same distinction – and they were right. At the 1900 Paris Exposition, only two years after the winery's construction, La Jota garnered international recognition after Hess won a bronze medal for his "Blanco."

Prohibition effectively ended wine production in the United States and the market for Howell Mountain's superior wines collapsed. Although Prohibition ended in 1933, the damage was already done. A few Howell Mountain wineries attempted to start up again, but none succeeded. Ultimately the wineries were left empty and the region became home to numerous "ghost" wineries. A half-century went by, and in 1974, former oilman Bill Smith acquired the "ghost" La Jota Vineyard Co. and planted vines on the estate. Eight years later, in 1982, the revived La Jota winery was officially bonded. In 2005, California wine pioneer Jess Jackson and his wife Barbara Banke purchased La Jota.

Today, the winery proudly carries on the century-old La Jota Vineyard Co. winemaking tradition, producing small lots of mountain Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Chardonnay.

There are 28 acres planted across three estate vineyards, each with its own distinct personality. The Hill vineyard is the highest, sunny and steep. The Meadow vineyard is the largest, and the Winery Block vineyard sits next to the original 19th century stone winery. The Winery Block is planted with St. George rootstock, and comprised of unique, phylloxera-resistant Cabernet Franc vines that date back over 40 years.


“The isolated, bucolic setting of La Jota’s vineyards and winery seems timeless, not a lot different than in the late 1800s. The people who have passed through here tell its history: the mountain was settled ages ago by the Wappo tribe; a Mexican general granted the land to a pioneer settler from North Carolina; a Swiss immigrant founded the winery; an Italian mason likely designed the stone winery built by Chinese laborers, and the land was planted with French grape varieties. That is the story of America.”


CHRIS CARPENTER, WINEMAKER


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