A Dream Come True on “Heart Attack Hill”
In the spring of 1994, Craig MacLean got his first look at a steep slope at the base of Spring Mountain. MacLean was a student of the mountain, and the head winemaker at Spring Mountain Vineyard thought he knew its many faces about as well as anyone. But this was something else. Not only was the hillside packed with volcanic rock, but the beautifully exposed slope was a back-breaking 30 degrees!
Every week, MacLean made a detour at the end of his work day, if only to trek what some came to call “Heart Attack Hill.” MacLean imagined the incredible fruit that might be drawn off the hillside, which could marry the chiseled tannins of Spring Mountain with the supple elegance of St. Helena. Still, MacLean had no delusions about the likelihood of his dream coming true. The cost of buying the parcel was prohibitive, much less planting it.
Two years later, Perry and Carolyn Butler did what no one had dared, what MacLean couldn’t imagine. The Butlers bought the property in 1996, and then brought in a vineyard team with spades and shovels. For weeks, the team jabbed sticks in the ground, carving saplings into rock and clay. After planting, Perry Butler took the ideal next step: He called Craig MacLean.
Since the release of the 2004 vintage, Robert Parker has lavished high scores and praise on MacLean’s fabulously rich, ultra-sleek Cabernet Sauvignons, but it’s Juslyn’s “Limited Release” Merlot that has Parker’s attention as of late. In the sun-filled, exceedingly dry 2013 growing season, Juslyn’s deep-rooted Merlot shrugged off the drought conditions, eking out just shy of 3 tons per acre of terrifically concentrated, small-berry fruit. Robert Parker heaped praise on the results, calling the 2013 “a real winner,” “sexy,” and “lush,” then adding a 91- to 93-point score after a barrel-tasting to top things off.
The 2013 Juslyn Merlot Spring Mountain Estate Limited Release is utterly seductive. A deep, dark ruby in the glass. Infused with luscious aromas of crushed black fruits accented by dark chocolate and espresso. The attack is extraordinarily rich and dense, yet silken in texture, showing sumptuous black cherry and plum. LONG and lush on the finish with lingering hints of mocha.