2003 Leonetti Columbia Valley Merlot

SKU #1014477 95 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate

 Though I was not a fan of the 2002, I was enraptured by the 2003 Merlot. Chocolate, cassis liqueur, cherries jubilee, spices, and violets are found in its magnificent aromatics. Aged in 80% new oak (of which 80% is French and the balance Pennsylvanian), this concentrated gem slathers the palate with black raspberries, spices, copious quantities of cherries, and blackberries that envelope its significant tannin. (PR)  (4/2006)

93 points Wine Enthusiast

 Intense and concentrated, this puts to rest any ideas that Merlot is incapable of making 'real' wine. The flavors are smooth and chocolaty, the mouthfeel liquorous, ripe and lush. High-toned fruits and flowers slide into the mellow tannins, all resolving in a superripe, decadently rich finish. (PG)  (12/2005)

90 points Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar

 Deep ruby-red. Knockout nose combines dark cherry, black plum, licorice, graphite, chocolate and mint, all lifted by a floral topnote. Sweet on entry, then spicy and firm in the middle, with flavors of black fruits, mint and licorice. Dense without being weighty; not a fat or thick wine but offers lovely lift. Finishes with a fine dusting of tannins. (ST)  (12/2005)

90 points Wine & Spirits

 With aromas that recall a Bangalore spice shop, this is a complex Merlot. Its savory quality is its forte; cardamom, cumin, nutmeg and tobacco leaf scents gently ford red berry fruit. All of these flavors are common to Walla Walla Merlot, but something takes this wine into more exotic territory. With time these elements are likely to integrate even further; then serve the wine with beef bourguignon.  (10/2005)

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Price: $59.99

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- 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.

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.


- 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.