2013 Tenor Merlot

We’re not making Merlot for the faint of heart. Merlot is one of the world’s greatest red varietals. It can be big and supple and complex, but coaxing all those notes out of the grape is a challenge, which is why it’s often maligned or misunderstood as a soft, generic red. We want to showcase a wholly different side of merlot. We want to show that even a 100% Merlot can be as big, as textured and as exciting to drink as a Cabernet and bring its own unique voice to the table. Merlot loves Washington’s climate. The unique sites and growing season enable us to bring out a little bit of everything that great Merlot is known for. We get enough heat and exposure to develop great ripeness and freshness, but our long season, cool nights and large diurnal shifts enable us to build great concentration and flavor intensity as well. We think of it as big and rich meets lean and racy. Tenor Merlot is full throttle and exciting, but still balanced and elegant. It presents with both power and suppleness, like a slap with a velvet glove. The Merlot is more structured than our Cabernet, which focuses on texture and thickness, but it’s every bit as big as the Cabernet. We’re careful to extract finer, drier, silkier tannins to ensure the wine is big but not overly tannic. Your first smell and your first sip will make it clear that there is a lot going on, and if you’re caught off guard a bit, that’s by design. This is a Merlot that you can hold onto for 5, 6, or 10 years and still be thrilling to drink. Drink it from 3-8 years to get the most of the youthful jazzy fruit, but enjoy it long past that as well, as the fruit softens a bit and allows the secondary notes and seductive aromatics to play a more dominant role. Expect ripe fruit, black currant, raspberry, smoky strawberry, with a touch of herbs and potpourri. Tenor Merlot is exuberant, sultry, always exciting to drink, and anything but boring.

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"Sporting a deep ruby/purple color, the 2013 Columbia Valley Merlot spent 19 months in 80% new French oak. It offers plenty of leafy herbs, black cherries, plums, tobacco and sweet oak as well as medium to full-bodied richness, a silky, seamless texture and impeccable overall balance. Drink this beauty anytime over the coming decade."

91 points - Jeb Dunnuck, The Wine Advocate

Tasting Notes

Ripe and opulent with bramble fruit, raspberries, blackberries and boysenberry. Swirling adds smoke, spice and vanilla bean, reminiscent of a berry compote panna cotta. The palate is thick, forward and opulently textured. Fine tannins and squeezed berries carry the finish.

Scores & Reviews

"This wine is all varietal. It brings aromas of toast, barrel spice, licorice and jammy red fruit that are followed by full-bodied red-fruit flavors. The tannins provide a firm grip."
91 points - Sean Sullivan, Wine Enthusiast

"Deep ruby-red. Sultry aromas of cassis, smoke, bitter chocolate and violet. Seriously concentrated, almost viscous Merlot with impressive medicinal reserve to its powerful dark berry and bitter chocolate flavors. Finishes with substantial, sweet tannins. This boasts terrific fruit intensity for Washington Merlot. For his part, winemaker Aryn Morell is a big fan of Tenuta dell'Ornellaia's cult Merlot bottling, Masseto."
91 points - Stephen Tanzer, Vinous

Wine Facts

Labeled Appellation:

Columbia Valley

Vineyard(s):

Hedges Family Estate

Varietal Composition:

100% Merlot

Vinification:

Fermented in a combination of concrete and stainless steel. Aged in 67% new and 33% used French oak for 18 months.

Alcohol:

15.1%

Cases Produced:

219

Drinkability:

Now-2027

Trade Materials

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