Columbia Crest Grand Estate Merlot
Although this one is listed as a straight Merlot, it actually is a blend, though a slight one. The addition of the Syrah and Cab lend this a nice complexity and ever so slightly present heaviness, which adds a nice degree of richness to what can sometimes be a fairly spare wine. The predominant taste and feel here is of Merlot and this one has a bit of spiciness and just enough astringency to put it at a near perfect level. It’s still an overall very smooth drink.
When people ask me for recommendations for US wines, even though they’re usually asking for a Californian wine, I will sometimes recommend this one, which goes a long way towards solidifying the Washington and in particular the Columbia Valley, which is the region where most of that state’s wine originates. In fact, if you see “Columbia” in the name of the wine anywhere and it’s a domestic, chances are better than not it will come from both Washington and this region, although I think the Columbia part is greatly overused. Most of the people asking don’t really care where it comes from, of course and just wanted a drinkable wine and that’s one area where this one excels greatly, combining the lighter and spicier notes of the Merlot with the Syrah and Cab, while keeping the Cab low enough so as not to introduce the clunkiness that can sometimes accompany that grape. All in all, an extremely well-rounded wine and despite it being a blend, still one of the better entries out there representing Merlot.
This is one that will usually be around for around $14/bottle, which puts it in an odd range, because I can usually find something I like better for less money. There are frequently times when I’ll get in the mood and only Merlot will do and this is one I’ll reach for…if it’s on SPA. This one, while a fine wine, is SPA Only.