Today’s blog post is written by Michelle Hunt of Bergevin Lane.
Happy Drink Wine Day! Wine is all about celebration – it brings friends together, makes an everyday meal an occasion, has heart-healthy benefits and even plays a role in many religious rites throughout the world. And the nicest thing about Drink Wine Day – the choices! There’s something for everyone, from sweet to dry, white to pink to red, fizzy or still, and organic or “natural.”
This year’s Drink Wine Day is all about Merlot. Often maligned and sometimes misunderstood, Merlot has made a big come-back in recent years, and the quality of Merlot readily available is a boon to all of us wine lovers. A hearty and easy-to-grow varietal, Merlot thrives in most United States AVAs (American Viticultural Areas), as well as in well-known international areas such as Bordeaux, where it originated. In fact, the first official wine label depicting a version of the word “Merlot” dates to France in 1784!
In the United States, Merlot has long been grown in both Sonoma and Napa Valley, but some of the best “QPR” (quality to price ratio) Merlots we are seeing on the market are coming out of the Columbia Valley in Washington State. Long-known to wine lovers everywhere as a go-to region for great wines at reasonable prices, the Columbia Valley AVA has the perfect growing conditions for heat-loving Merlot. Merlot grown here display flavors of dark red fruits, such as plums, cherries, red currants, blackberries and raspberries, often mingled with hints of cocoa, leather and stony minerals.
One of the most unique growing regions in the Columbia Valley AVA is Wahluke Slope, an ancient region carved by thousands of years of water, rocks and ice flowing through the Columbia River basin. “The Wahluke”, named by Native Americans as “watering place”, is an isolated, hot and dry plain, bordered by mountain ranges. The soils are mostly loess, a fine-grained type of wind-born sand, which provides near-perfect growing conditions for Merlot. Grapes grown here benefit from long growing days, with minimal rainfall and cooling night breezes.
Bergevin Lane Vineyards from Walla Walla, WA (A Direct to You Winery) produces a single-vineyard Merlot from the award-winning Stone Tree Vineyard on the Wahluke Slope. Grown at nearly 1200 feet above sea level and protected from harsh conditions by the beautiful Saddle Mountains, this Merlot is both robust and silky at the same time. A true “Cab Lovers” Merlot, the 2011 Bergevin Lane Merlot offers layers and layers of silky blackberry, plum and blueberry fruit, with a core of cherry on a long and firm finish. Close your eyes and you’re in a “right bank” chateau in Bordeaux, but for a mere fraction of the price! Bergevin Lane has been working with this vineyard since 2004, and assistant winemaker Sean Smith loves the fruit it produces, stating that “the 2011 vintage was near-perfect, and produced an amazing balance between fruit, tannin and spice.” for under $25, this wine offers amazing QPR and will delight those who want a celebratory wine at an everyday price.Happy Drink Wine Day, from our vineyard, direct to you!