2004 Pride Mountain "Mountain Top Vineyard Vintner Select Cuvée" Sonoma County Merlot
Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar
Saturated, deep ruby-red. Aromas of smoky redcurrant, graphite and nutty oak, with a suggestion of chocolate liqueur. Lush on entry, then concentrated, sweet and silky-smooth, with rich, slightly high-toned flavors of plum, smoke and graphite. This has lovely sweetness and lift and finishes very long, with big, rich tannins. A major mouthful of mountain Merlot. (ST)
Pride's regular '04 Merlot was very good. This one's better. Intensely rich and concentrated in the way of mountain wines, it shows huge, ripe cherry marmalade, black raspberry pie filling, rum and cola, mocha-choca and Asian spice flavors, enriched by smoky oak. Any really ripe wine can do that, but only one from great coastal vineyards can achieve this balance of acids and tannins. Should develop over the next 10 years.
*Two Stars* Mountain wines often show a little less fat and a little more structural toughness than their valley-floor counterparts, and this sturdy, very deeply filled Merlot does just that. Its succulent smells of cherries, mint, chocolate and toast lead to like-minded but rather astringent flavors that are presently bound up in youthful tannins, yet its tenacious fruit fights on through at the finish and guarantees that a handsome wine will await all those who exercise five or six years of patience.
Not shy about showing its oak, with plenty of cedar, vanilla bean and spice, yet underneath is a delicious core of currant, blackberry and graphite. Oak returns on the finish, providing a woody mouthfeel, but there's lots of depth and concentration.