This 2005 Merlot (released in 2007) started with the beginning of the earliest harvest on record for the Columbia Valley. Warm summer months and moderate weather conditions later on, allowed extra hang time to enhance flavor and aromatic development. Hand picked fruit from selected vineyards in the Columbia Valley, including our estate grown Merlot at “Columbia Crest Estate Vineyard” in the Horse Heaven Hills, was gently destemmed and crushed with 30% whole berries remaining.
A brief cold soaking on the skins extracted soft tannins and intense color, in a combination of “up-right” and “open top” stainless steel fermenters. Fermentation, including a mix of twice daily “pumpovers” and “delestage”, lasted up to 10 days. Malolactic fermentation occurred in new, 59 gallons French oak barrels. During the 18 months barrel aging regime, the wine was “gravity-flow” racked out and back every three months. The final “assemblage” includes 20% Cabernet Sauvignon to add depth and complexity and reveals delightful aromatics of blackberry and dark cherry. Full bodied, it offers a spicy core of black cherries and sage-laced dark fruits. It’s expressive satin-textured finish.
“This is the perfect example of Washington State Merlot”
– Ray Einberger, Winemaker