The Los Carneros AVA is located in both Sonoma and Napa counties and received its AVA status in 1983. The Carneros region covers 90 square miles and is centered along the low-lying hills of the Mayacamas range north of San Pablo Bay. The region features a sloping elevation ranging from 400 feet in the foothills to near sea level at San Pablo Bay. Los Carneros is settled by morning fog and moderately cool afternoons with strong winds off the bay. The soils are made of clay and are very shallow allowing for poor drainage. The winds coming off the San Pablo Bay and shallow soil force the vines to struggle and can delay the grapes from ripening, occasionally causing losses in yield and production. The slower ripening allows the grapes to develop complex flavors and balanced acidity. The cooler climate has made Los Carneros a premier region for the cultivation of cooler climate varietals like Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
The grapes for the 2012 Counter Punch Merlot were hand-harvested on September 28, 2012 from the Los Carneros AVA of Napa Valley at 24.0 Brix. "Classic" and "Perfect" are just two accolades being bestowed upon the 2012 Napa Valley growing season and harvest. Textbook conditions saw near-ideal spring bud break, steady flowering, even fruit set, and a lengthy stretch of warm days and cool and often foggy nights during the long summer months. Late and light rains held off until the grapes found optimal ripeness, bringing exceptional quality to the crush pad and into the cellar.
The fruit arrived at the winery in small 1/2 ton bins where destemming and hand-sorting occurred. Fermentation proceeded in a small bin for eight days. The free-run was transferred directly into neutral barrels for settling. After settling, the young wine was racked from the neutral barrels into new American oak barrels (from trees grown in Minnesota) where it aged for an additional year. The wine was polish filtered and bottled in April 2014.
This lively Pinot Noir was fermented in 20% new French Oak for 2 years, which leads to a smooth finish that suggests the sumptuous flavors of Creme Brûlée. Notes of Bing Cherries and red fruits bring out a slight tartness which adds texture and complexity to his medium bodied wine.