We featured this fantastic Washington State Merlot last year on our wine bar to great success and were sad when we were told we couldn't get any more of it. Then, we became happy again because the distributor found more of it for us! Yes, that's right we are excited about Merlot even if Miles from "Sideways" wasn't. Of course it's the ultimate irony that the 1961 Cheval Blanc he finally consumed out of a styrofoam cup at the end is a blend of Cabernet Franc and....Merlot. Thus, when we come across a great Merlot these days we tend to sit up and take notice - and pray that people will see the beauty of this much maligned grape. This 2012 Cotes de Ciel Merlot is one such wine that could teach the Miles' of the world a thing or two. Focused and concentrated with deep dark red berry and milk chocolate aromas and flavors with a nice spice note from the well integrated oak, this is a rich but not entirely full bodied wine. The tannins are supple and the finish is long and lingering. This 100% Merlot was aged for 22 months in 50% new French oak and 50% neutral barrels and shows off great balance and polish.
The Cotes de Ciel winery was founded in 2007 by the Holmes Family, which was one of the five familiies who originally planted the Ciel du Cheval vineyard on the flanks of Red Mountain in eastern Washington in 1975. At the time, Red Mountain was a desolate desert landscape that no one believed suitable for any kind of agriculture. However, these Washington State wine pioneers had a hunch that it could prove to be great terroir for planting grapes. They dug deep water wells, installed electricity and installed irrigation systems. Chardonnay and Riesling were the first varietals planted but they soon discovered that red Bordeaux varieties were even better suited to the well drained gravelly soil. Today, the Ciel du Cheval Vineyard is considered one of the best in Washington and its fruit plays a major part in most of the top wines coming from the state. The Holmes' figured it was time for them to try their hand at producing their own wine so they keep a small portion of the fruit they would normally sell to others and make about a dozen wines. 343 cases were produced of this delicious Merlot.