Another day, another journey to what is rapidly becoming my favourite New World wine region, Washington State. Today was one of those days where work was busy, I hit a traffic jam on the way home, the baby wouldn’t sleep, and I didn’t get to sit down to have dinner until almost 8:00; by that time, all I wanted with my meal was a welcoming, easygoing, easy-drinking (no more beer commercial adjectives, I swear) wine, a leather armchair by a fireplace in a glass. That’s exactly what I got with this Mercer Cabernet.
The Mercer is from Highlander Wine & Spirits, who in the past few months has brought in multiple different Mercer wines, including this Cab’s value-driven cousin, the Dead Canyon Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon from Horse Heaven Hills in Washington, which is absolutely lights out for just over $20 CDN. Mercer Estates is a partnership between the Mercer family, long-time farmers and grape growers in eastern Washington, and Hogue Cellars, one of the state’s best known value producers, and medium-priced, solid quality reds like this are their bread and butter. Having had their Dead Canyon Ranch a few times, I was curious how this slightly more pedigreed Cab (it’s around the $30 CDN range) would compare.
The Columbia Valley Cab has a clear, bright, translucent ruby colour, less opaque than I expected from a Cabernet Sauvignon but still deep and rich. From the first sniff onward, I was hit with a juicy nose of sweet blueberry and blackberry mixed with a baker’s paradise of milk chocolate, nutmeg and banana bread. The sweet notes continued onto the palate, where the biggest flavour impression I got (especially as the wine opened up in the glass) was chocolate-covered cherries. Thankfully, however, this isn’t a syrupy, cloying, dessert-style dinner wine; more savoury components like leather, cedar and mint started to come through on the midpalate, and the soft young tannins asserted themselves enough throughout to keep all the flavours together. The wine finished with a pleasant warmth that lingered for a few seconds and helped drain away the stresses of backed-up freeways and impending deadlines.
Since I have no problem anthropomorphizing wines, I won’t hesitate to say that this one strikes me most as “friendly”: it’s approchable, easy to like, and a joy to be around. It is very New World in style, with lots of soft fruit and sweetness front and centre, but it isn’t one-note and has enough up its sleeve to keep you reaching back to the glass for more (at least, until you’re surprised to find it empty).
$25 to $35 CDN