Best Buy! As more vines come into production in Washington state, consumers can expect more bargains akin to this remarkable work with Merlot on a grand scale. And while this entry tier doesn’t spend time in Columbia Crest’s “petit chai” production area, the quality of the juice is utterly remarkable, despite the work by Juan Muñoz Oca’s team to more than doubled production of this wine since the 2011 vintage. The barrel program shows an abundance of dark toast, coffee and smoke aromas that meld with black cherry, anise, cedar and chalkboard dust. On the palate, the oak program takes a backseat to the flavors of cherry and black currant as vanilla and chocolate fill in behind. Its medium structure creates this nicely balanced as the fruit keeps pushing into the finish. Suggested pairings range from beef, duck and veal to dark chocolate and blue cheese.
Production: 205,000 cases