Wednesday, April 19, 2006

There's a new Merlot in town.

You will soon be hearing alot about Couvillion Cellars. The winery will celebrate a grand opening during Walla Walla's Spring Release Weekend, May 5-7.

I feel so fortunate to have had a private tasting recently and tour of the winery. Couvillion Cellars is owned by its winemaker, Jill Noble. We enjoyed a long visit the other day, which included tasting her wines, so in the next couple of weeks I will be posting here about her wines and, best of all, about her -- an up-close-and-personal view. I think Jill is destined to become one of Walla Walla's most sought-after winemakers. Soon I'll be able to say, "I knew her when..."

For now, though, let's talk about her 2004 Merlot, which is not one of the Walla Walla "tannic-monster" Merlots. This one's much more elegant yet assertive: It said, "Pay attention to me!" My nose could barely take in all the wonderful aromas coming from the bowl of the wine glass. This Merlot, blended with 24% Cabernet, has mocha and spicy notes, which graduate to flavors of mocha, spice, berries and plums on the palate. In the finish there's a quick sparkle of the green vine to let you know it is a new Merlot, but this left as quick as it arrived, and the finish continued with a long slow grand flourish of caramel. It made me want to smack my lips -- so I did!

Jill writes on her wine's label: “My Merlot is a pleasure to share with friends and your favorite music, or to enhance your favorite meals. It is ready to drink now through 2010, and we will continue to taste it throughout its life and update the cellar notes on the website.” Nice touch, that last bit.

I agree about drinking this Merlot with music. It is a wine I would curl up with over a good book and soft music or over a campfire with good friends. This particular Merlot is made to be shared during a time that will become a memory. I would definitely pair it with grilled salmon or grilled portabello mushrooms.

This Merlot is also not going to be around long. Jill produced just 53 cases and is charging just $15 a bottle -- an incredible deal -- so it will soon be a memory, too.

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