Dussek Family Cellars 2012 Merlot, Columbia Valley, $36

Alsace native Jean Claude Beck blends fruit from Stoneridge Vineyard on the Royal Slope with that of Pepper Bridge Vineyard in the Walla Walla Valley for this expression of Merlot offered at the Woodhouse Wine Estates complex in Woodinville. It spent 26 months in neutral French oak, but there’s also the influence of five months in new French barrels (80%), which helps explain aromas of Chukar Cherry and Raisinets alongside vanilla. On the pour, there’s an appealing blend of black cherry and blackberry flavors that lead to nicely integrated, fine grained tannins akin to a nibble of currant skin. Pomegranate acidity, swirling amid notes of earthiness and cola lead to the mouth-filling finish that offers balance.

Rating: Excellent

Production: 120 cases

Alcohol: 14.5%

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