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Columbia Crest H3 Merlot 2009

Merlot from Columbia Valley, Washington
  • WS89
14.5% ABV
  • WS90
  • WS89
  • WS86
  • WS90
  • WS91
  • W&S90
  • WS88
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4.0 4 Ratings
14.5% ABV

Winemaker Notes

The H3 Merlot opens with aromas of raspberries, black pepper and earthy tones which lead to flavors of chocolate covered cherries and plum preserves on the silky smooth palate. The flavors and aromas culminate in an intense – yet elegant – finish.

Critical Acclaim

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WS 89
Wine Spectator
Fresh and vibrant, this is lively with dark berry, mocha and tobacco flavors, finishing with a mild grip of tannins. Drink now through 2013. 58,000 cases made.
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Columbia Crest

Columbia Crest

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Columbia Crest, Columbia Valley, Washington
2009 H3 Merlot
Founded in 1983, Columbia Crest has grown from a small winery in a relatively unknown wine region to one of the most significant wineries in the U.S. and a major force behind Washington state's emergence as a world-class wine region. Over the years, the winery has remained committed to delivery handcrafted, small-lot wines, as well as affordable, superior quality everyday wines. In 2009, the winery reached a milestone when Wine Spectator named their 2005 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon "Wine of the Year," the first time a wine from Washington state has received the ranking. This accolade was not only a historic moment for Columbia Crest, but for all wineries in Washington and reinforced the belief that the region is among the best wine-producing areas in the world.

Columbia Valley

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A large and geographically diverse AVA responsible for 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 extends into northern Oregon as well. Because of its vast size, it is necessarily divided into several distinctive sub-AVAs, including Walla Walla Valley and Yakima Valley—which is further split into three more even smaller AVAs. A region this size will of course have varied microclimates, but on the whole it experiences cold winters and long, dry growing seasons. 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 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, the styles of which depend on the warmth of the site. Citrus and green apple are common to both in cooler sites, while warmer vineyards will produce riper, fleshier stone fruit flavors.

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. One simply needs to look to Bordeaux to understand Merlot's status as a noble variety. On the region’s Right Bank, it dominates in blends with Cabernet Franc, and on the Left Bank, 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 and Cabernet Franc.

SWS183019_2009 Item# 111267

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