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Northstar Columbia Valley Merlot 2006

Merlot from Columbia Valley, Washington
  • RP91
  • WS91
14.4% ABV
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  • W&S91
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4.0 2 Ratings
14.4% ABV

Winemaker Notes

This rich wine is concentrated and yet elegant, with aromas of cherry, plum, raspberry, and blackberry, finishing off with flavors of toasted oak, vanilla, coconut, mint, and toffee. Enjoy and celebrate!

Critical Acclaim

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RP 91
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
The 2006 Merlot Columbia Valley is composed of 76% Merlot, 19% Cabernet Sauvignon, and the balance Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. It was aged in French and American oak, 65% new, for 18 months. The fruit was sourced from 14 different vineyards making the wine a testament to the art of blending. Dark crimson-colored, it displays an alluring bouquet of cigar box, sage, clove, cinnamon, black cherry, and a hint of chocolate. Medium to full-bodied, round and elegant on the palate, it has solid depth and enough ripe tannin to support 2-3 years of additional cellaring. Drink this intensely flavored effort from 2011 to 2021.
WS 91
Wine Spectator
Firm in texture, with sandy tannins around a ripe core of currant and berry flavors, the fruit winning easily on the finish. Needs time, but this will be elegant. Best from 2012 through 2016.
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Northstar

Northstar

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Northstar, Columbia Valley, Washington
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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.

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.

SWS284211_2006 Item# 102204