Categorized | Merlot, Reviews, Washington Wines

High-end WA Merlot Round-up

Washington State has made its mark among wine drinkers all over the world with its Bordeaux varieties and out of those, Merlot is standing strong. In this 3-way round-up, I take bottles from three leading producers out of Walla Walla and see how they stack up. Each bottle retails for near the $50 dollar mark so this should prove to be rather interesting. We have producers up here in this state which are committed to making some of the best wines anywhere at any price – with all grape varieties – three of which are: PepperBridge, Northstar and Long Shadows Vintners.

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2005 Northstar Walla Walla Merlot: W.E.P. Score: 80%

Technical Data:

  • Total Acidity 0.58/100 ml
  • pH 3.73
  • Alcohol 14.4%
  • Blend 80% Merlot, 16% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Petit Verdot
  • The barrel regime included 80% French and 20% American oak, with 80% new barrels. The final blend consists of fruit from 8 distinct vineyard blocks. 
  • Price: $50.00

Nose; Blackberries, currant, piecrust, tobacco, dark chocolate and pepper. Hints of charred bell pepper skin on the nose as well as leather glove. Sweaty arm-pit. 

Taste: Big-time blackberry, black cherry and cola along with big doses of black pepper and some chunks of leather – pretty good mouth-feel on this wine, however the finish is too short for a wine of its price-tag. 

 

2005 Pedestal Merlot: W.E.P. Score: 100%

Technical Data:

  • Alcohol: 14.7% 
  • pH: 3.83
  • TA: 0.51 grams / 100ml 
  • Blend:  86% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Petit Verdot, 4% Malbec
  • Release date: February 2009
  • Production: 1,877 cases 
  • Price: $50 

Nose: Blackberry-soaked road-kill with black and white pepper coated over it- I also get blueberries, plum, gym-sock, baseball mit, black cherries and allspice. 

Taste: Excellent layering of flavors going on in this wine – the blueberry component is shining through as is the plum and spice. Big amounts of dark chocolate as well. I find the oak to be very well balanced with the almost obnoxious fruit coming through. Great tannin structure – this wine will easily lay down for the next 10-15 years and tastes great now as well.  This is by far one of the most elegant Merlot’s I’ve ever had anywhere and at any price.

 

2005 PepperBridge Merlot: W.E.P. Score: 80%

Technical Data:
  • Varietal:  86% Merlot, 9% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Malbec
  • Vineyard:  56% Pepper Bridge Vineyard, 44% Seven Hills Vineyard
  • Appellation:  100% Walla Walla Valley
  • Oak Program:  100% French oak, 54% new oak, 46% used oak
  • Time in Barrels:  18 months
  • Harvest Date:  September 19 through October 6, 2005
  • Brix at Harvest:  25.3
  • Total Acidity:  0.55 g/ml
  • pH:  3.72
  • Finished Alcohol:  13.9% by volume
  • Total Production:  1,351 (9-liter cases) and 30 cases of magnums
  • Bottling Date:  April 13, 2007
  • Release Date:  December 1, 2007   
  • Price:   $50.00

Nose: Heavy pepper and blackberries, blueberry, hints of tar and tobacco. I also get hints of some “Greenness” – a bit vegetal – sort of like charred bell pepper. A good, elegant nose which shows off lots of new world fruit with some of that old-school veggie action.

Taste: Layers of black fruit arise from hints of burnt ash, cedar box, tar and some tobacco. Toss in a hints of leather glove and stinky arm-pit. This wine had great potential to wow me, however, it just falls a bit too flat on the back-end of the palate. 

*How we review wines