Northstar Columbia Valley Merlot 2009
Merlot from Columbia Valley, Washington
Rich and concentrated aromas of vanilla, blackberry, and maple lead into flavors of boysenberry, blueberry, and chocolate. This wine was created to enjoy now or for many years to come – it will age gracefully.
Blend: 81% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Petit Verdot
The Wine Advocate - "The 2009 Merlot Columbia Valley (81% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon and 4% Petit Verdot) is easily the largest production release from this estate, with over 8,000 cases produced. Aged in 95% French and 5% American oak, 57% being new, for 18 months, it offers a beautiful bouquet of black cherry, red currants, underbrush and toast as well as a perfectly balanced, silky and elegant feel in the mouth. Leaning heavily towards to finesse driven side of the spectrum, with silky tannin, medium body and moderate concentration, it will evolve gracefully for upwards of a decade."
Wine Enthusiast - "The vines from which the fruit for this wine were sourced are, on average, 15 years old. Aged primarily in French oak, this concentrated wine shows fine depth, with an emphasis on black cherry and cassis flavors. Full and ripe, this well-structured effort has the balance and polished tannins to be cellared for a decade, at least. Cellar Selection."
Wine Spectator - "Firm and peppery, with a strong black pepper note running through the dark berry and currant fruit, all of it persisting in a harmonious package and scratchy tannins that need time to soften. Drink now through 2017."
International Wine Cellar - "Ruby-red. Suave aromas of cassis, blackberry, violet and bitter chocolate show good lift for the vintage. Fresh and focused, with bright currant, licorice and chocolate flavors perked up by floral and herbal hints. This bottle struck me as fresher and more delineated than the 2008 version, despite the ripeness of the 2009 vintage. Finishes with suave tannins and noteworthy persistence. "
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Northstar, located in Walla Walla, Washington, aims to make Merlots that can be considered among the world's best, using fruit sourced from one of the world's best regions for the variety: Washington state. Winemaker, David "Merf" Merfeld, blends New World fruit with an old world winemaking style, influenced by Bordeaux's "right bank," to create his highly-acclaimed wines. Northstar produces two Merlot-based wines from the Columbia Valley and Walla Walla AVAs, as well as the Stella Maris red blend and extremely limited production bottlings of the blending component varieties that Merf uses as his "spice box" in creating Northstar's Merlots. View all Northstar Wines
About Columbia Valley
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.
Notable FactsMerlot is the most popular and most planted grape of the area, followed by Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay. Syrah and Riesling are also popular and continue to grow in acreage.
About WashingtonRelated Links: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.
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Alcohol By Volume GuideMost 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 & Fruity
- Red wines that are more fruit-forward and lighter in tannin and body.
Smooth & Supple
- Medium bodied reds that go down easy, with smooth tannins and supple fruit.
Earthy & Spicy
- Wines where earthy and/or spicy dominate the flavors – typically medium to full body.
Big & Bold