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Northstar Columbia Valley Merlot 2009

Merlot from Columbia Valley, Washington
  • WE92
  • RP92
  • WS91
14.8% ABV
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4.2 2 Ratings
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4.2 2 Ratings
14.8% ABV

Winemaker Notes

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

Critical Acclaim

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WE 92
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.
RP 92
Robert Parker's 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.
WS 91
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.
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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.

SWS331852_2009 Item# 123666