Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Mercer Canyons 2014 Red Blend, Horse Heaven Hills

When the Little Dragon is in town, she demands fruit forward wines. This red blend from Horse Heaven Hills fills the bill – and then some.

Going Up The Canyons

Our daughter is a vegan baker with a heavy dose of wanderlust. If she’s not cooking at a Colorado ski slope, or exploring a Central American country, she’ll pop in for a visit.

She recently did so. While she isn’t as fiery as her mother, the Green Dragon, she can be demanding. She also is developing a love of wine.

Her appreciation of premier cru wines from Bordeaux will come in time. Right now her taste runs toward wines that are easy to drink and to understand.

Recently to pair with an organic, vegan, funky, Bernie Sanders approved meal, that she prepared, she wanted a red wine. I uncorked this bottle of 2014 Mercer Canyons Red Blend.

H3 = Satisfaction

We’re huge fans of Washington State wine. What’s not to like? You can expect bold flavors, innovative winemaking and a great price point. In particular, the Horse Heaven Hills AVA produces some of the state’s most highly rated wines. The area is near the Columbia River and benefits from steep slopes and tempering winds.

Mercer Estate Wines produces a range of wines from Horse Heaven Hills. Last year we sampled the Sharp Sisters blend from Mercer Estate Wines and really enjoyed it. That is from the Mercer Estates line, which is in the middle of the top shelf Mercer Reserve line and the entry level Mercer Canyons label.

I don’t like to make blanket statements – but in this case, I will: If you buy a wine from Horse Heaven Hills, you’re going to like it. The fruit is just that good.

The Mercer Canyons Red Blend is no exception to my audacious statement. The grapes come from Mercer’s Spice Cabinet and Dead Canyon vineyards in Horse Heaven Hills. This is rich fruit in the Washington tradition. The dappled sunlight of the site allows the grapes to fully ripen and develop deep flavors.

This is a grab-bag of great grapes: 59% Merlot, 16% Syrah, 10% Grenache, 7% Sangiovese, 6% Petit Verdot and 2% Viognier. Yes, Viognier is a white grape. Adding a dash of Viognier enhances the aromatics and is in the Rhone tradition where it is common to add to their Syrah-based wines.

Little Dragon was pleased with the full flavors of the Canyons Red Blend. For a wine that costs $13.99, there is a lot going on in the glass. Black cherry dominates with spice flavor notes. The wine is aged in a combination of French and American oak for 12 months, adding caramel and smoke complexity. The wine undergoes malolactic fermentation, adding to the full mouth feel.

I sensed a smidge of sweetness to the wine, due I’m sure to the lush fruit flavors. This is a wine that will appeal to a large segment of wine lovers – especially those whose faces begin to shrivel when sipping a bone dry wine with heavy tannins.

This wine is a fine accompaniment to a light meal of pasta, pork or beef. It’s Little Dragon approved for drinking all by itself too.

Full disclosure: This wine was received as a marketing sample.

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