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Day 3 – Unsanctioned Series Merlot 2019

Happy Saturday from Conviction Ridge Vineyard. This is our estate vineyard, and home to our 36-year-old Merlot vines. Today we present our 2019 Unsanctioned Series Merlot, a powerful, age-worthy wine. This is the second vintage of our 100% estate-grown Merlot, and we are already happy with the evolution of this wine. For those of you not familiar with the location of our vineyard and winery, we are in the heart of the Okanagan Valley overlooking Skaha Lake. At the north end of the lake is Penticton, and at the south end is Okanagan Falls. We are situated on a bench about 100m above the lake, with an east-facing aspect. Why does this matter?

Bordeaux varietals typically like long, hot days with intense afternoon sun. This is best achieved in a south or west-facing vineyard, which helps the grapes ripen in terms of both sugar and phenolics. With an east-facing aspect, you get more of the morning sun, which normally isn’t as intense and, depending on the topography, you lose the daylight earlier.  At our Conviction Ridge vineyard in Kaleden, we sort of have the best of both worlds!  We are on the west side of the valley, which means we get a great amount of morning sun. But due to the contours of our site, we are actually on a bit of a knoll, with both east-facing and west-facing slopes. On top of that, there is a saddle in the mountains to the west of us that is in the arc of the sun during the summer months which gives us an extra hour or so of daylight. Those are significant factors that help our Merlot ripen and produce a very distinctive style.

What we typically achieve with our Merlot is full sugar ripeness (we normally harvest around 24.5 – 25 Brix) with elevated acidity and big tannins. Those are the critical factors needed for a wine to be able to age. What we’ve learned so far with our Merlot is that extended barrel time really helps manage the tannins. If you’ve had the opportunity to try our 2018 Merlot, the tannins are a bit grippier. By giving the 2019 vintage a full 2-1/2 years in barrel, the wine went into bottle in a much more relaxed state. It still has great aging potential, but it will likely reach its peak drinking window before the 2018 vintage.  And we’re so certain of that that we have tucked away 30 cases of the 2018 Merlot for a library release in a few years!

For today’s suggested food pairing, we’re stepping back a bit in time with a classic dish from Julia Child: Boeuf Bourgignon.  The recipe we’ve provided comes from an episode of Binging With Babish, where he takes inspiration from the movie Julie & Julia. Make sure to watch the YouTube video by clicking here!

Merlot in the Winter

Winemaking Notes

The Merlot vines at our Conviction Ridge vineyard in Kaleden are 36 years old and produce naturally low yields at less than 3 tons per acre. The resulting wines are powerful, concentrated and ideally suited for long-term cellaring.  The 2019 vintage was aged for 30 months in 40% new French oak barrels.  Bottled unfined and unfiltered.

Only 120 cases produced.

Tasting Notes
A bold red wine with depth, concentration, length and complexity. A nose of cassis with earthy undertones of forest floor and tobacco leaf. The entry is soft with round yet lively tannins and acidity that persists. Flavours of cassis, plum, blackberry and black cherry, while the mid-palate offers mocha, cedar, and a hint of vanilla. On the finish you’ll find subtle notes of cinnamon, cloves and cracked black pepper. Approachable now, but with great cellaring potential.

Food Pairings
In its youth, this is most definitely a food wine. Suggestions include roast beef, braised lamb shanks, and grilled ribeye steaks.


93 Points: John Schreiner

92 Points: Carl Boucher (Carl’s Wine Club)

92 Points: Tim Pawsey (HiredBelly.com)

Wine Specs

Vintage 2019
Appellation Okanagan Valley VQA
Vineyards Conviction Ridge Vineyard, Kaleden
Acid 6.3 g/L
pH 3.66
Residual Sugar 2.8 g/L
Alcohol % 14.2
Production: 120 cases