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Castle Rock Columbia Valley Merlot 2010

Merlot from Columbia Valley, Washington
  • WS88
13.5% ABV
  • WS86
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13.5% ABV

Winemaker Notes

Castle Rock Merlot was produced from grapes grown on beautiful south facing hillside vineyards in the prestigious Columbia Valley, which shares the same latitude as the Bordeaux region of France. This Merlot has spent 18 months aging in French oak barrels.

This rich, medium bodied, complex wine offers layers of concentrated flavors of ripe berry and plum, mocha and spice, with a hint of oak. All of these flavors unite to form a long, smooth, and harmonious finish.

Critical Acclaim

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WS 88
Wine Spectator
Fresh, vivid and inviting for its juicy blackberry and cherry fruit, persisting right through the open-textured finish.
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Castle Rock

Castle Rock Winery

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Castle Rock Winery, Columbia Valley, Washington
Since its inception in 1994, Castle Rock Winery has built an enviable reputation for producing high quality wines at affordable prices for discerning wine lovers. This winning formula is highly successful, as proven by an increasing number of customers and members of the wine press, who have given the wines glowing reviews.

Castle Rock's wines are carefully made from grapes grown in the most prestigious areas of the West Coast states - California (Napa Valley, Sonoma County, Mendocino County, Monterey County, Alexander Valley), Oregon (Willamette Valley), and Washington (Columbia Valley). The company has always focused on making wines with specific appellations in order to allow the local qualities of the wine to be appreciated by connoisseurs.

The wines are made and bottled at wineries boasting state-of-the-art equipment, located in Napa Valley, Sonoma County, Oregon's Willamette Valley, and Washington’s Columbia Valley. Distribution throughout all states of the United States is through a comprehensive network of fine wine distributors.

Columbia Valley

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A large and geographically diverse AVA capable of producing a wide variety of wine styles, the Columbia Valley AVA is home to 99% of Washington state’s total vineyard area. A small section of the AVA even extends into northern Oregon!

Because of its size, it is necessarily divided into several distinctive sub-AVAs, including Walla Walla Valley and Yakima Valley—which are both further split into smaller, noteworthy appellations. A region this size will of course have varied microclimates, but on the whole it experiences extreme winters and long, hot, dry summers. Frost is a common risk during winter and spring. The towering Cascade mountain range creates a rain shadow, keeping the valley relatively rain-free throughout the entire year, necessitating irrigation from the Columbia River. The lack of humidity combined with sandy soils allows for vines to be grown on their own rootstock, as phylloxera is not a serious concern.

Red wines make up the majority of production in the Columbia Valley. Cabernet Sauvignon is the dominant variety here, where it produces wines with a pleasant balance of dark fruit and herbs. Wines made from Merlot are typically supple, with sweet red fruit and sometimes a hint of chocolate or mint. Syrah tends to be savory and Old-World-leaning, with a wide range of possible fruit flavors and plenty of spice. The most planted white varieties are Chardonnay and Riesling. These range in style from citrus and green apple dominant in cooler sites, to riper, fleshier wines with stone fruit flavors coming from the warmer vineyards.

An easy-going red variety with generous fruit and a supple texture, Merlot’s subtle tannins make it perfect for early drinking and allow it to pair with a wide range of foods. But the grape also has enough stuffing to make serious, world-renowned wines. One simply needs to look to Bordeaux to understand Merlot's status as a noble variety. On the region’s Right Bank, in St. Emilion and Pomerol, it dominates in blends with Cabernet Franc. On the Left Bank in the Medoc, it plays a supporting role to (and helps soften) Cabernet Sauvignon—in both cases resulting in some of the longest-lived and highest-quality wines in the world. They are often emulated elsewhere in Bordeaux-style blends, particularly in California’s Napa Valley, where Merlot also frequently shines on its own.

In the Glass

Merlot is known for its soft, silky texture and approachable flavors of ripe plum, red and black cherry and raspberry. In a cool climate, you may find earthier notes alongside dried herbs, tobacco and tar, while Merlot from warmer regions is generally more straightforward and fruit-focused.

Perfect Pairings

Lamb with Merlot is an ideal match—the sweetness of the meat picks up on the sweet fruit flavors of the wine to create a harmonious balance. Merlot’s gentle tannins allow for a hint of spice and its medium weight and bright acidity permit the possibilities of simple pizza or pasta with red sauce—overall, an extremely versatile food wine.

Sommelier Secret

Since the release of the 2004 film Sideways, Merlot's repuation has taken a big hit, and more than a decade later has yet to fully recover, though it is on its way. What many viewers didn't realize was that as much as Miles derided the variety, the prized wine of his collection—a 1961 Château Cheval Blanc—is made from a blend of Merlot with Cabernet Franc.

YNG438022_2010 Item# 124158