2014 Leonetti Walla Walla Valley Merlot (Previously $100)
(from Loess and Mill Creek Upland): Bright ruby-red. Deep, liqueur-like griotte cherry, wild herb and licorice aromas lifted by a slightly high-toned floral element. A lushly fruity, fine-grained fruit bomb on the palate, gaining creaminess with time in the glass. This wine has a pH of 3.52 following a bit of acidification. As sexy as it already is, the tannins currently impinge a bit on the finishing fruit, so I'd wait a year or two. Merlot for Pinot lovers. Chris Figgins described 2013 and 2014 as "pretty much identical vintages, although 2014 was a more even growing season, with fewer heat spikes." Both vintages, he said, had "good acidity considering their warmth. The 2013s are a bit angular while the "14s are more user-friendly wines." Incidentally, Figgins told me that he's not afraid to water back his musts in hot years, "but not with Seven Hills fruit, which typically matures in terms of flavor and phenolics at fairly low sugars so it's not necessary." Figgins added that Seven Hills fruit shows "a more feminine profile" that he believes would be damaged by any dilution. (ST)
Dense, with cherry and herbal overtones wrapped in firm, fine, peppery tannins, swerving into a long, expressive finish. Needs time to soften the edges. Best from 2018 through 2023.
From the producer: "Placing one’s nose into a glass of this year’s Merlot results in an immediate smile. It leads with a gorgeous pure fruit nose of compote reduction and graham cracker that jump from the glass. It is so rich, lush, and pure. It is a positively delicious wine that I cannot help but drink more of today, but will easily age 10+ years for those of you who enjoy cellaring wines. This is everything Merlot wants to and can be in Washington State."