Appellation: Horse Heaven Hills
Juan Muñoz Oca earned his promotion to Columbia Crests head winemaking position by developing reds such as this stunningly balanced and elegant blend regardless of the price. Named for the French word for the horses, Merlot (80 percent) dominates the formula, and the use of 33 percent new oak gives this wine chocolatey and toasty aromas and flavors that join blackberry, black currant and black pepper. The structure is plush and complex, showing a deft touch with tannin management and a pinch of spice in the farewell. Rated Outstanding by Great Northwest Wine. (14.5 percent alcohol)
Cases produced: 72,000.
Food matches: Suggested fare includes pepper steak, pates and strongly flavored cheeses.
Columbia Crest, Highway 221, Columbia Crest Drive, Paterson, 509-875-4227, www.columbiacrest.com.
Great Northwest Wines