Domestic Merlot With a Twist

This Thursday the wines for tasting at Fine Wines of Stockton was advertised as domestic Merlot. However, George was up to his old tricks and slipped a Pomerol and a Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot blend into the mix. We had a pretty small group this week which made for an informal atmosphere and a great exchange of opinion.

2004 Desert Wind Columbia Valley Merlot from the Wahluke Slope – The color was ruby to garnet. The nose was stinky (like a barn yard) initially, but blew off to earthy scents. The flavors tasted of bright fruit with a black pepper spiciness. The tannins were moderate with good acid and a moderately long finish with tannins and acid.

2006 Whitehall Lane Winery and Vineyards Napa Valley Merlot – This wines color was ruby. The nose showed plums and a vegetal character. The flavors tasted of bright fruit followed by that vegetal (like dahlia stems) character from the nose. The tannins were more than moderate and became slightly bitter on the finish. This wine was riper and richer than the first one.

2007 Santa Ema 60/40 Barrel Select Reserve – This wine from Chile is actually 60% Cabernet Sauvignon and 40% Merlot so it was another small twist. The Cabernet influence was noticeable. The color was very dark ruby with violet around the edge. The nose was smoky, vegetal and leathery. The flavors tasted of ripe rich fruit and leather with vanilla. This definitely tasted like a warm weather wine, and the color made me suspicious that this was a South American wine.

2007 L’Ecolle No. 41 Merlot from Walla Walla Washington – We previously reviewed this wine on January 21st of this year. The color was dark ruby. The nose showed dark fruit and licorice. The flavors tasted of ripe rich fruit and spice with vanilla in the background. There were moderate tannins and good acid with a long finish of flavor and tannins. Overall, this was a complex wine.

2006 Chateau Rouget (Pomerol) – the color was ruby to garnet. The nose was distinctly coffee-like with leather. The flavors were complex but understated with dark fruit and leather. There were big tannins and good acid with a long finish. This wine had a lot of flavor with a light mouthfeel and was the groups favorite.


  1. Hey you guys, are you trying to be totally objective with your reviews? Dontcha think you should sneak in a “and of all of these esteemed vintages, I liked the stinky merlot the best because it reminded me of my days around the barn” or something like that?

    You did mention the group’s favorite, but I was wondering what you might like and why. Or, of course, what you detested and why….

    • Yeah, we should do that. I think we have on some reviews. We don’t want to have a “score” but it would be helpful if we said what we liked and didn’t like and if we were in the minority or not. Then someone could determine they like what Nancy likes but not what Pete likes or vice versa.

      Thanks Tom!