Waterbrook Winery 2011 Merlot, Columbia Valley, $13
Best Buy! John Freeman is closing in on completing his first decade as head winemaker for this Walla Walla showpiece after taking over from founding winemaker Eric Rindal. He stitches together fruit from Canyon Vineyard Ranch, Blackrock, Oasis and the underrated Wahluke Slope site Doval. Attractive aromas of blackberry, dusty cherry, horehound, lavender, lilac and dark spices. Cherries and boysenberries lead into chewy tannins, bright acidity and dash of white pepper in the finish. Suggested pairings include Salisbury steak, pork chops with rosemary and pasta in a tomato sauce.
Production: 5,085 cases