2008 Northstar Columbia Valley Merlot (Previously $33)
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.
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.
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.
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.