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Snoqualmie Merlot 2009

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Snoqualmie is a little known label from the huge and much better known wine maker Chateau Ste. Michelle and like the rest of their portfolio it is a wine worth knowing. This week I tried the 2009 Snoqualmie Merlot an interesting experience because it is 100% Merlot grapes and not “buffed up” by the common practice of blending in other grapes to balance the finished product.

Dark purplish red color in the glass the aroma of black cherry and cooking spice rises up to meet your nose. True to the nature of Merlot grapes this wine is loaded on the front of your palate and tends to diminish as it moves from start to finish, but what a start it has. A solid core of cherry and dark berry flavor supported by spice that shows evidence of a little aging in oak that makes for a very nice fruitful, but not fruit bomb drinking experience. The finish has an odd note of green pepper and very soft tannin closing with line of acidity.

The whole package, full fruit in a strong open that weakens as it moves through your mouth before ending with cleansing acidity makes this a great wine to serve with food. There are a lot of options if you choose to serve this wine at the table. Consider leaner cuts of beef and season it up if you prefer, but I think a pork loin with a fruit marinade or sauce would match this wine perfectly. Baked or rotisserie chicken smothered in herbs would also complement the spice and green pepper notes if your taste runs to the “original white meat”. No matter what your pleasure, on its own or with a meal the easy going nature of Snoqualmie Merlot will serve you well.

While the Snoqualmie label is not as popular in our area as other Chateau Ste Michelle offerings, it is available in many stores that make an effort to provide you with quality wine choices, the bottle I sampled came from Ada’s Natural Market. Wherever you shop expect to pay a price of $10 to $11, less if on sale, well worth it for the quality in the bottle. Just keep in mind the 100% Merlot makeup of this wine shows off the grape to advantage, but doesn’t provide the balance or weight that many desire. However, for those looking for a true expression of that varietal or a drink that will match many occasions and does not need to take center stage this is one worth trying.

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