2008 Northstar Columbia Valley Merlot (Previously $33)

SKU #1088972 93 points Connoisseurs Guide

 The more widely available of the Northstar pair, it may be the less flamboyant partner, but if so, it is not by all that much. Indeed, it is arguably a fair bit more approachable than its vintage sibling, and while trodding the same ripe-Merlot ground, it does it with a somewhat clearer look at ripe cherries and creamy oak given its slightly lighter touch. Well-made, long in flavor and ageworthy, and while it will comfortably reward a quiet wait in bottle before opening, it is not demanding of it.  (3/2012)

91 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate

 The 2008 Columbia Valley Merlot offers up aromas of balsam wood, spice box, tobacco, violets, cassis, and blackberry. Savory on the palate, if slightly austere, another 1-2 years of bottle should fill the wine out. It will drink well through 2023.  (8/2011)

91 points Wine Enthusiast

 This wine gets the all-star treatment, blending fruit from 14 vineyards, and aging it in 60% new French oak. It’s a substantial, muscular effort, with dark fruit, earth and tar components. A small addition of Petit Verdot darkens the color and thickens the tannins.  (12/2011)

90 points Wine Spectator

 Prickly tannins and a tang of acidity play against blackberry and cedary spice flavors in this firm red, which is nicely filled out, finishing with persistence.  (11/2011)

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Varietal:

Merlot

- A very popular red grape variety found in the great wines of St. Emilion and Pomerol. It is the most planted variety in Bordeaux, and it has also become an extremely fashionable red in many regions including California. Although it has a reputation to be smooth, and easy to drink when young, Merlot is also capable of producing extremely intense wines as well. It is often used as a blending agent with Cabernet Sauvignon.
Country:

United States

- When people consider domestic wine, they normally think about the state of California. The fine viticultural Region within California, including the Napa Valley, Sonoma, Santa Cruz Mountains, Mendocino and Santa Barbara, are capable of growing grapes of world-class quality. But there's plenty of fabulous wine coming from other states, too. Oregon, Washington and New York are also causing eyebrows (and glassware) to be raised around the world. Click for a list of bestselling items from the United States.
Sub-Region:

Washington

- Washington has become one of the most important wine producing states in the United States, and development continues to grow rapidly. In 1969, when California was exploding as a wine producer, Washington had only two wineries, but by 2000 that number had passed 100. Most of Washington's grape crop goes to uses other than wine. Merlot and Chardonnay have been the most successful in Washington. It's interesting to note that Washington's prime wine regions are located at 46° north, along the same latitude as the legendary French wine districts of Bordeaux and Burgundy. During the summer, Washington averages more than two hours more sunlight each day compared to California.