Aromas of black cherry and black current are balanced with oak, spice, nutmeg, and vanilla. Bright fruit flavors dominate in the mouth with a lively acidity and moderate but smooth tannins. This Merlot is complex and layered and displays the intensity that can be developed in Washington State. While soft and approachable for near-term enjoyment, the subtle structural tannins and acid backbone give this wine excellent potential for aging. It is a splendid match for rich meats, dark red pasta sauces, smoked grilled salmon and is beautifully matched with Cajun or spicy oriental foods!
"A river of red cherry opours out of the blacker, plum skin tannins, giving a wine that's concentrated, smooth and rich. It has a shine and trasparent elegance that raise it a notch above grapey and simple. And it has that full textural warmth that makes merlot a pleasure to drink." -Wines & Spirits
Barnard Griffin Winery
Barnard Griffin Winery was established in 1983 by Winemaker Rob Griffin and his wife, Deborah Barnard. Rob saw the opportunity to make great wine in Washington and moved north in 1977. Pleased with his move to Washington, he says "The northern latitude of Washington and the ideally drained sandy soils of the Columbia Valley make it possible to produce deeply concentrated wines of pronounced character."
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Columbia Valley is the largest of Washington State's wine growing regions, with almost 11 million acres. It encompasses a number of smaller regions, including Yakima Valley, Walla Walla Valley, Red Mountain and more. The vast area consists of a range of climates, allowing viticulturists to plant a diverse selection of grape varieties. Most wineries plant rows sparsely, which helps the vines survive the harsh winters.
Now the number two producer in the United States, Washington State has also grown in quality.
So how does a state known for rain and coffee produce high quality wines? They plant their grapes on the east side of the Cascade mountains, away from that ever-present rain cloud that sits along the coast. Perhaps wine grapes do well since the sandy loam soils east of the Cascade range give way to an almost desert-like land, saved from drought only by the helpful rivers that run through the area – and the good irrigation systems.
Thinking that the state would do best with typical northern growing grapes like Riesling and Gewurtztraminer, turns out the apple state is well-suited for reds, namely Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and, more recently, Syrah. Of course, whites have not been forgotten - Washington State Rieslings range from bone-dry to sweet, are well-structured and high quality, and Chardonnay dominates most of the other white plantings, making a range of wines. But the reds of the region, Merlot in particular, have made Washington State a quality force to be reckoned with.
Most wine ranges from 10-16% alcohol by volume. Some varietals tend to have higher (for example Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon) or lower alcohol levels (Pinot Noir and many white varietals), but there is always some variation from producer to producer. Some wine falls outside of this range, for instance Port weighs in closer to 20%, while Muscat and Riesling are usually a bit below 10%.
Wine Style Guide
Light & Crisp
Light to medium bodied wines that are high in acid and light to medium fruit. Typically no oak.
Fruity & Smooth
Light to medium bodied wines with lots of juicy fruit, typically medium acid and medium oak.
Rich & Creamy
Full bodied wines that have typically undergone malo-lactic fermentation and/or spent time in oak.