Friday, February 22, 2013

Washington Merlot a Trois

This past weekend featured a number of races and Team Sky is already dominating the early season.  They had victories in the Tour of Oman and the Volta Ao Algarve last week.

In the Seattle Urban Wineries feature for the month of February, Ward Johnson Winery one ups Team Sky with three medal winners grappling for an opportunity to represent Washington state in a future match with the Old World.

Keeping it in the family.  Ward Johnson Winery Merlot 2006 v. 2007 v. 2008 in a stupendous sibling rivalry.

Tale of the Tape

2006 Merlot

100% Merlot from Hedges North Block in the Red Mountain AVA

Aged for 24 months in 60% new barrels (Vicard and Taransaud)

2007 Merlot

100% Merlot from Hedges North Block in the Red Mountain AVA 

Aged for 24 months in 30% new barrels (Vicard and Taransaud)

2008 Merlot

100% Merlot from Hedges North Block in the Red Mountain AVA 

Aged for 24 months in 30% new American Canton oak barrels

All purchased for $20 at the Ward Johnson Winery as part of a Merlot Vertical tasting event.

Round 1.  First Opening

The 2006 Merlot is relaxed and confident, the obvious traits of a seasoned veteran Luchador.  The nose is showing leather and menthol with cherry and dusty lavender.  The palate is darker with black cherry, cola and toffee with nice coffee toffee and cigar box spices on the finish.

The 2007 is slightly grittier like it is digging into the earth for a toehold against its well balanced 2006 big brother.  The nose shows dirty earth, leather, cherries and a hint of smoke.  The palate is tarter with earthy cherries, light all spice and tart sage brush tinged finish.

The 2008 is searching for moves to overpower the older siblings.  The nose is drier with leather, earth tones, cherry, sage brush and dried flowers.  The palate features cherries, tart cedar spice and notes of cofee bean all leading to a tart dry finish of cherry bark and hints of spice.

The youngsters are putting up a good battle, but the old man on the block takes the first round.  Score one for the 2006.

Round 2. One hour after opening.

These Red Mountain dare devils are going for the gusto right from the start of round two.

The 2006 strikes a pose and dares the 2007 and 2008 to come knock it down.  The nose is featuring dark cherries, leather, earth and loads of spices.  The palate is dark and complex with cherry, toffee, coffe bean and a tart cedar spice finish bolstered by cocoa and mole' cinnamon spices.

The 2007 is getting funky with a nose of dark fruit and smoky sandalwood.  The palate features dark cherry and tart cedar spices with a finish of tart coffee bean, semi sweet chocolate and light spiciness.

The 2008 is fiesty and spicy with a nose that shows black cherry and toasty menthol spices.  The palate is darker with black cherry, leather and cedar spices with a tart cedar spice finish.

Another close battle, the judges award this round to the 2006.

Round 3. One day after opening.

It seems like the only chance to topple the 2006 is for the 2007 and 2008 to form a secret pact and attack together.

The 2006 is standing tall, kicking ass and taking names.  The nose is bold and rich with earthy black cherries and dusty leather.  The palate is featuring black cherry. toffee and bitter chocolates along with  eucolyptus, clove and menthol spices that trail on to the finish.

The 2007 is bringing the Kung Fu power and speed with a nose of earthy peat bog, tart cherry, cranberry and light cedar spiced floral notes.  The palate is bulked up with black cherry and clove spices that lead to a finish that features tart spice, light chocolate and tart espresso bean.

The 2008 gangs up with the 2007 bringing some Ric Flair "Nature Boy" style to the contest.  The nose is super earth driven with dark cherry, red berries  and barrel tinged all spice.  The palate is up in your face with cherries and tart cedar notes that lead to a cigar box spice inspired tart finish.

The 2006 takes another round despite the 07 and 08 forming an alliance and mounting a 2 on 1 attack.

Wrap up and Overall Observations

This was a great match!  There is some serious Luchador power in the Ward Johnson Merlot family.  I was anticipating some serious mayhem so brought in some additional judges to keep things under control.  The Ward Johnson 2006 Red Mountain Merlot was the unanimous winner of the big event.  With the victory, the 2006 Luchador earned the right for a return engagement.  I have not doubt this battle tested warrior will represent the state of Washington well when called upon in the future.

Being able to taste three vintages, all 100% Merlot and all from the same vineyard was fun and enlightening.  All three of these Merlots brought something to the party and made an impression.  I would rate all three as excellent and recommend that you seek them out.  If you want to bring some power to your party you need to add one (or more) of these wines to your guest list!

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