Thursday, October 18, 2007

A Great Value - A Great Merlot

Lately, I have been in this mode of sampling Walla Walla wines priced under $30 a bottle and is it ever paying off! The good news is I keep discovering wines that are top quality for the dollar.

One of the Valley’s great value is from Lowden Hills Winery. Lowden Hills is a family winery owned by Jim and Sonja Henderson. A highlight about the Walla Walla Valley is if you were born and/or raised here, you just about know or related to everyone. Back in high school, Sonja and I co-chaired a high school girl’s league committee together. And have continued to keep in touch.

Besides a family winery, Lowden Hills also produces estate wines from their Win Chester Vineyards located outside of Lowden, WA. Named after Sonja’s late stepfather, Win Estes, the Estes family were wheat farmers and homesteaded in the Walla Walla Valley since the late 1800's.

The historic barn, now winery, seems fitting considering the Lowden Hills Winery’s family history. The barn was built in 1938 and has been the home to livestock, crops stored by the local truck farmers, and at one time, even an old dance hall.

So - - would you like to know more about their Merlot? Lowden Hills Winery Merlot - 2002 is a blend of fruit from their estate Win Chester Vineyards and the Alder Ridge Vineyard. Alder Ridge is one of the oldest and highly regarded vineyards in Washington State. I discovered this Lowden Hills Merlot not to be a whimp, but a real full-bodied Merlot that I feel should be honored with a good meal. It is a force to be reckoned with when ney-sayers comment that Merlot is merely a blending grape - NOT! Dark and dense in color along with aromas of dark fruit from the orchard. Just that bit of age has given it a well rounded structure with flavors of dark cherries and prune-plums. I even picked up a bit of cocoa in the finish.

After opening, the bottle didn't get finished and was held over for the next day. Just as lovely! And you cannot beat the price for such an exceptional Merlot - - $20!

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