Well into his third decade as the winemaker, David “Merf” Merfeld produced one of the most promising Merlots of our judging as Northstar celebrates the 20th anniversary of its vinification facility south of Walla Walla. A pair of Walla Walla Valley vineyards — Anna Marie and Spring Valley — were blended with acclaimed Shaw on Red Mountain and Four Feathers near Cold Creek. Black cherry notes are joined by blueberry, chocolate and nutmeg along the way. Interestingly, Cabernet Sauvignon from Ste. Michelle’s own Cold Creek Vineyard accounted for 24% of the finished wine, helping to polish the muscular tannins that get bathed in Marionberry juice. Enjoy it alongside pork ribs, prime rib or roasted chicken rubbed with herbs.
Rating: Gold medal – 93 points
Production: 5,971 cases