Columbia Crest H3 Merlot, 2007
We have been big fans of Columbia Crest wines for years. I can't think of another American winery that can produce such a tremendous quantity of wine and produce an excellent product at every price point. They have wines starting at about $6 and wines priced above $35. The Columbia Crest Reserve Cabernet, 2005 was recently selected as “Wine of the Year” (2009) from the Wine Spectator Magazine. The Columbia Crest “H3” wines are upper-mid level wines that sell for about $12 to $14 in the Seattle area. The name “H3” stands for Horse Heaven Hills which is the appellation of this wine and the home of the Columbia Crest Winery in Patterson, Washington. A few weeks ago we opened a bottle of the H3 Cabernet and were quite pleased. This time it is the H3 Merlot. This is an excellent representation of a Washington State Merlot. I recommend decanting this wine, before drinking, to allow the initial oakiness to blow off and the complexity to deepen. In the glass this Merlot has deep ruby red color with a heady bouquet that evokes ripe berries, sweet tobacco, licorice and vanilla. This is a full bodied wine with complex layers of flavors with an explosion of fresh black fruit, cassis, espresso and spice that are balanced by some nice minerality and a touch of creamy oak. Tannins are chewy and there is crisp acidity that adds to the overall balance. The finish is full and very pleasant. This is still a very young wine that should evolve nicely with a few years of proper cellaring. I really enjoyed the H3 Cabernet; however, the 2007 Merlot is also excellent.