Mike Berghan makes what he grows around his stylish winery and tasting room on Stateline Road south of Walla Walla, and he dotes on his Merlot by dropping it into a French oak program — 50% new barrels — for 24 months. That makes for beautiful aromas with black cherry, strawberry jam, cocoa powder, nutmeg, violets and cedar. The entry is bold with dark plums, black cherry and dried strawberry, then held up by raspberry acidity and a tannin structure that blooms across the palate. This wine, scheduled for release Nov. 1, already is showing nicely. Alas, production was nearly half that of the award-winning 2008 vintage.
Production: 100 cases