Leonetti Merlot 2017
A dominant note of ripe bramble fruit and cream explodes from the glass, as ifraspberries and blackberries were reduced on the stove and then poured hot over homemade vanilla ice cream. Secondary notes add just a touch of cocoa powder. In my opinion, Walla Walla Valley Merlot is about purity and precision of fruit, and thiswine delivers that in spades. The subtle and seamless tannins are not heavy on the palate, but clean and pure. The finish is both rich and acid-laced, making it truly satisfying and refreshing.
Blend: 94% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc, 2% Cabernet Sauvignon
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
Notes of iodine and some smoky nuances, as well as sappy, foresty freshness to the red plums and darker berries. The palate has rich tannins and dark-plum flavors pervade the assertive finish. A blend of 94% merlot, 4% cabernet franc and 2% cabernet sauvignon. Try from 2023.
Mostly Merlot with 4% Cabernet Franc and 2% Cabernet Sauvignon, the 2017 Walla Walla Merlot begins with a black-fruited nose but quickly moves to express red fruit on the palate. The wine is precise, with hints of pencil shavings and juicy plum, while the Cabernet expression lifts the back end with subtle spices. Medium to full-bodied, the wine ends with a long-lingering finish that delivers pleasure and complexity. This is a tasty and gorgeous Merlot, of which there were 1,866 cases made.
Black raspberry, dried and fresh herb and black currant aromas are at the fore. Ripe, lush fruit flavors follow, supported by firm, lightly grainy tannins. It has a nice yum factor. Best after 2023. Cellar Selection
Responsible for some of Washington’s most highly acclaimed wines, the Walla Walla Valley has experienced a surge in popularity in recent years and is home to both historic wineries and younger, up-and-coming producers.
The Walla Walla Valley, a Native American name meaning “many waters,” is located in southeastern Washington; part of the appellation actually extends into Oregon. Soils here are well-drained, sandy loess over Missoula Flood deposits and fractured basalt.
It is a region perfectly suited to Rhône-inspired Syrahs, distinguished by savory notes of red berry, black olive, smoke and fresh earth. Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot create a range of styles from smooth and supple to robust and well-structured. White varieties are rare but some producers blend Sauvignon Blanc with Sémillon, resulting in a rich and round style, and plantings of Viognier, while minimal, are often quite successful.
Of note within Walla Walla, is one new and very peculiar appellation, called the Rocks District of Milton-Freewater. This is the only AVA in the U.S. whose boundaries are totally defined by the soil type. Soils here look a bit like those in the acclaimed Rhône region of Chateauneuf-du-Pape, but are large, ancient, basalt cobblestones. These stones work in the same way as they do in Chateauneuf, absorbing and then radiating the sun's heat up to enhance the ripening of grape clusters. The Rocks District is within the part of Walla Walla that spills over into Oregon and naturally excels in the production of Rhône varieties like Syrah, as well as the Bordeaux varieties.
With generous fruit and supple tannins, Merlot is made in a range of styles from everyday-drinking to world-renowned and age-worthy. Merlot is the dominant variety in the wines from Bordeaux’s Right Bank regions of St. Emilion and Pomerol, where it is often blended with Cabernet Franc to spectacular result. Merlot also frequently shines on its own, particularly in California’s Napa Valley. Somm Secret—As much as Miles derided the variety in the 2004 film, Sideways, his prized 1961 Château Cheval Blanc is actually a blend of Merlot and Cabernet Franc.