Two years ago at Taste Washington I took a blending seminar hosted by Northstar Winery. That was the first time I was introduced to their wines. I learned a bit and was introduced to a new region of wines and new vineyard, which is always the goal for me when I'm attending events like that. The Northstar 2011 Premier Merlot is a Merlot that is extremely limited in production (290 cases) and sourced from the best vineyards in the Columbia Valley region. The 2011 growing season experienced cool temperatures in the spring, which slowed and delayed the bud break and bloom by nearly a month. Harvest started about 3 weeks later than normal due to warm summer temperatures that lengthened the ripening period. The consistently warm summer temperatures that summer eliminated the typical 100-degrees Fahrenheit spikes, so the grapes ripened very evenly.
The Northstar 2011 Premier Merlot is a very aromatic 100% Merlot, with lots of dark chocolate and bright red fruit such as raspberries and black cherries on the nose. You also pick up on notes of vanilla, coconut, and graham cracker, as well as blackberry and plum. So much aroma. I could swirl and sniff this wine all day. The palate mimics the nose, with lots of bright red and dark fruits and vanilla. This wine has a beautiful long and lingering finish, yet is bold, bright, and balanced. So delightful. Definitely one of the best Merlots I've tasted all year. This wine pairs well with duck or lamb, cured meats, rich cheeses, or beef tenderloin. It's also lovely to sip a glass by the fireplace at the end of the evening and simply enjoy the aroma and palate without the complications of food.
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