2012 Milbrandt Vineyards The Estates Wahluke Slope Merlot



Merlot. Years ago, its greatest excesses collided with a snappy movie quote to destroy its reputation in the blink of an eye. But maybe it’s time to come back to this historically important red wine grape. Consider this:

In a panel of master sommeliers, contestants given two glasses of red wine could only correctly identify which one was Cabernet and which one was Merlot 50% of the time. So the most advanced tasters on Earth in prime game-on form could pick out Merlot as well as the most common drunkard blindly guessing. Was it their fault? No. Merlot and Cabernet, especially from warm climates, are almost indistinguishable from one another. Indeed, they’ve historically been considered bosom buddies of blending, with each one complimenting the other. Merlot tastes, acts, and blends well with Cabernet.

Right now, most domestic wineries are in a Merlot crisis. They simply cannot sell their Merlot to Americans. Which is odd, because Pomerol and Saint Emilion (both Merlot, but from France) continue to fly off the shelves. So what was once up, has to come down, and most domestic Merlot is now priced at half the price of its Cabernet cousin – even though, winery by winery, it’s from the same place, same vineyard, same winemaker, and (referencing the paragraph above) tastes nearly the same.

The summation? It’s a darn good time to be drinking Merlot!

But maybe you are not convinced. Maybe you remember Merlot from its sloppy, overripe, unbridled days of being almost to the point of sweet. Allow me to introduce you to Washington State Merlot. Washington simply never took its Merlots to the licentious place that spawned the hate. Environmentally, Washington just can’t – its combination of sun, diurnal shift, soil, and water are going to produce and have always produced Merlots that… well… taste like Cabernet. They’re big, muscular boys, and they always have been.

Combine these Washington gems with slow sales and the fact that if you don’t tell your master sommelier friends, they’ll think it’s Cabernet anyhow, and you’ve got a winner. That’s what we have in Milbrandt Vineyards Merlot:

The 2012 opens with blackberries, cocoa, freshly brewed cappuccino – the kind you make when you have to get up too early, but you’re getting up to do something awesome like fly to Hawaii on a vacation in January; hints of raspberries so ripe they are just crying out to be crushed onto toast and mixed with butter like they were already jam.  The finish is long, and at nearly 10 years of age, this beauty is ready to go right out of the gates.

The price, the flavors, the quality, it’s all right here.

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