Columbia Valley, Washington- ""Balanced, rich and explosive. Think red plums and bittersweet cocoa with hints of smoke and cedar. So smooth, so naughty, and so very, very nice.""
Washington wine country has only been producing premium wines for some 50 years, no time at all compared to many of the world’s winemaking regions. Yet in that half-century, Washington has become the United States’ second-largest wine producer, behind California. And each year, Washington winemakers deliver an ever-more-impressive portfolio of world-class wines.
It’s not easy. Washington state wineries face serious obstacles, most notably the region’s climatic extremes.
Winemakers love Merlot grapes because they are easy to grow and quick to ripen. Casual wine drinkers appreciate that Merlot wines can be soft and approachable, with delicious dark fruit flavors. In Merlot blends, the grapes add a moderating influence, providing measured tannins, soft texture, medium acidity and medium alcohol. Accordingly, Merlot balances the more rustic and herbaceous qualities of Cabernet Sauvignon, a frequent blending partner.
Merlot can also make complex, full-bodied and concentrated wines with grippy tannins and aging potential. Many connoisseurs consider the best Merlot wine to come from Bordeaux’s Right Bank, where the varietal predominates in wines from St.-Émilion, Pomerol and other renowned appellations. Merlot is also blended to excellent effect with the other red Bordeaux varieties, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot.