Bare Ridge Vineyard, Walla Walla, Washington State
Cellar Craft Showcase Collection
Bottled August 2014
The onset of cooler Fall weather is a good time to revisit some of our more robust favourites.Cabernet Merlot features two of the mainstay grapes of a typical Bordeaux blend. The grapes for this Cellar Craft Showcase Cabernet Merlot were sourced from Bare Ridge Vineyard in the Walla Walla American Viticultural Area, in southeastern Washington State. Walla Walla AVA was designated in 1984 and features more than 140 wineries, the highest concentration of wineries in the state. Average temperatures of 19°C (April-October) and plenty of sunshine (17.4 hours per day) ensure full ripening and flavour development in the grapes. Low rainfall in the area requires careful irrigation – grape vines dislike “wet feet” (roots that are too wet).
Characteristic of Cabernet Sauvignon, the wine was a rich, dark ruby. Also characteristic of Cabernet was the immediate pronounced cassis aroma. An array of other aromas followed the cassis: black raspberry; rich forest floor; tobacco; leather; chocolate; with the impression of juicy sweetness.
The flavour profile reflected the aromas with the additional depth of dark cherry; plum; eucalyptus, these commonly found in Merlot. Spicy oak notes and a roasted nut taste spoke to the oaking process. The long finish showed lingering spice notes. This was a medium-bodied wine of lush, rich, mellow texture; well-balanced between acidity and tannins.
Much of the Merlot grown in the world is blended with other more substantial wines, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, to bring an element of smoothness, richness and elegance. Blending also allows winemakers to achieve a particular flavour profile that may not be present in a single varietal wine.
Cabernet Merlot is typically aged in a two-stage process using French and Hungarian oak barrels. Tannins are derived not only from grape seeds, stems and skins but also from the oak barrel. French oak has the highest tannin levels, Hungarian oak far less. Oak tannins comprise 5-10% of wood [Iowa State University, Midwest Grape and Wine Industry Institute]. French oak yields robust spicy notes; Hungarian oak provides toast aromas, while imparting softer textures and elegance, with no danger of overpowering the wine.
The Cellar Craft Showcase Cabernet Merlot would be an excellent accompaniment to venison; beef; Irish stew; roasted vegetables; spicy Puttanesca sauce, where black olives are the star; appetizers or desserts featuring figs or dates in combination with Mascarpone cream or Bleu Elisabeth cheese. My tasting plate included garlic-studded black olives; fresh roasted red pepper baba ghanouj on crisp crackers; and charcuterie. All were elevated by the presence of this delicious wine.
Prepared for Wine Kitz Ottawa Iris
By Wendy Smyth, Certified Sommelier