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2011 Chateau Ste Michelle Merlot

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It never fails to amaze how a company as big as Chateau Ste Michelle that produces so many different labels and wine can be so consistently reliable. Hmmm, the auto companies might study this company and its track record of delivering what the buyer expects. That observation aside as an admitted fan of Washington State wines the 2011 Merlot under the Chateau Ste Michelle label did not disappoint this reviewer.

Dark purplish with a tinge of red on the edge the anticipated rise of aroma from the glass didn’t happen. Instead of coming up to meet your nose the 2011 Chateau Ste Michelle Merlot had a layer of berries and oak spice that acted more like a blanket than a helium balloon, covering the bed of wine instead of rising up from it, very different for a wine in this price range. The flavor is a full mouth of fruit, mixed berry and a touch of cedar set against a spicy character, while the profile of the fruit is not distinct and therein one knock I have against this wine, it is tasty and pleasing. As you might expect from a wine built around 94% Merlot it is heavily weighted to the front of your palate, but the addition of other varietals serves to carry into the mid palate, though not much beyond to the finish. The finish is slightly tannic with mild acidity that sets the stage for a meal if you choose to present this wine at the table.

Like other Chateau Ste Michelle labels the 2011 Merlot can be found for $10 to $12 all over our area, from wine stores to the grocery aisle. Is it worth the money? Absolutely, this is a quality wine that shows off the Merlot grape and the characteristics that led to Merlot being a very popular buy in this country before the movie “Sideways” fed a Pinot Noir craze. The summary judgment; this is a drinking wine, not the best choice for times of quiet reflection, but a great choice for pairing with people, food and socializing.

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