History continues to smile upon this vineyard near the state line between Oregon and Washington, site of the Walla Walla Valley’s original planting of Merlot by the McClellan and Hendricks families. The effort and excitement sparked Casey McClellan to matriculate to the University of California-Davis and become the valley’s first classically trained winemaker, and this bottling signals his penultimate vintage with the brand he created. It ranks among the most layered and age-worthy of this tasting with its notes of cassis, blackberry and mocha that are followed by pencil shavings, bell pepper and a pinch of earth. Beveled tannins and juicy acidity make for a bright finish.
Rating: Gold medal – 94 points
Production: 200 cases