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Merlot Hillside 2019

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Merlot Hillside 2019
Merlot Hillside 2019
Tasting notes

The 3,000 foot elevation of the vineyards at Madrona tends to produce a Merlot of firmer tannin structure than is commonly found in other areas. This elevation also contributes a distinctive complexity to our Merlot. There are usually notes of currant, plum, cherry and tea-leaf, with hints of toasty oak. While ready to drink upon release, our Merlot always rewards further bottle age.

2019 Vintage

With the huge wallop of Malbec (20%) blended into the wine, this Merlot is all about fruit and a supple palate. Don’t get me wrong…there’s all the mountain-grown aspects going on too. But from the first “sniff” of the aromas to the last lingering character on the finish, this wine is all about cherries. The nose abounds with fresh Bing cherry fruit surrounded by red fruit flavors of plum and red currant. A little deeper into the aromas, and hints of mint and rosemary fill in the niches. The entry on this wine is all black cherry, engulfing the taste buds in a most pleasant way. Full-bodied but not overbearing, the palate is almost rich with just enough brightness (acid) to keep it fresh. There are definitely tannins on the finish of this wine, but they are of the most supple sort one might ever experience. So that nice cherry-forward fruit spreads the entire experience of this youthful yet maturely softened Merlot. (Cellaring Potential:  5-7 years)

Other notes

Mushrooms, onions, potatoes and butter, this Merlot will be an amazing companion to almost any comfort food out there. Thinking Mac-n-Cheese, Portabella burgers and oven-roasted potatoes would be perfect tonight!

Varietal Composition76% Merlot
20% Malbec
4% Cabernet Sauvignon
AppellationEl Dorado
VineyardEstate Vineyards
Aging16 months in neutral French and American Oak
Fermentation18 days on average on the skins with a temperature-controlled fermentation
Volume750 ml
Bottling Date06/16/2021
Cases Produced266

Two distinctly different sites produce the unique nature of Madrona's big-bodied and full-structured Merlot. A west-facing slope planted in 1974, on no-less-than own-rooted vines, uses the old Davis clone, famous for big tannins and a true Bordeaux structure. The other two clones, Bordeaux clone 181 and the Boeger clone, have been grafted into the vineyard into a warm night, cooler (shaded) afternoon site. This typically produces a wine ripe with luscious cherry fruit and soft, supple tannins.

Paul Bush, Owner/Winemaker

Madroña Vineyards

Camino, California. 


We are a family-owned and operated winery focusing on terroir-driven, Estate-Grown fruit.

Annual Case Production:  12,000 cases

Planted Acres:  70 acres planted at the 2,850 to 3,000 foot elevation.

Career Background:  Having helped plant the family vineyards as a kid in 1973, I grew up working in our winery what seemed like every day after school. I had no intention of “winding up” in the wine industry and graduated from U.C. Davis in 1989 with a degree in Economics. However, with an interest in traveling abroad, our winery offered a flexible schedule and an opportunity to work with inspiring winemakers such as Mark Foster and Hugh Chappelle. I began managing the vineyards and business in 1991 and making the wines in late 2002.

Biggest Professional Challenge: Balance! Working with my wife, Maggie, we find our greatest challenge is how to be business owners with all of its responsibilities while making the wines, growing the grapes, marketing the brand and raising two daughters. Any given day can be filled with dusting the vineyards at daybreak, acid trials before lunch, working in the tasting room in the afternoon—and then throw in a swim meet or school play for spice.  Undoubtedly, every small, family winery tackles the same aspect of wearing so many hats, but the challenge and excitement is unique to each one.

Varietals that Madroña is Known for:  In total, we grow 27 varieties in our El Dorado vineyards. From within these plantings, however, I believe that Malbec, Cabernet Franc, Zinfandel, Riesling and the seven Portuguese varieties (for our New-World Port) are consistently outstanding.

Short Testimonial: I truly can’t imagine doing anything else but growing grapes and enjoying  wine. I believe the terroir of our region is unique with overall cool-climate aspects, peppered with warm summer days and a slightly shorter growing season. So finding the true expression of each variety for our vineyards ends up being an exciting and challenging adventure every vintage. The wines have more backbone and structure than most regions of California while showcasing the intense varietal character of mountain fruit. Most often, I find that the wine knows best in how it should be “made,” and I’m just along for the ride. As we once heard in France, “One does not make wine. One elaborates wine!” And with our Estate-grown grapes, I am quite content to be the “elaborator.”

Click on the links below to get information about our
other vintages.
2019 2016
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