Right after reviewing a wine (the 2007 Amavi Syrah) that was identical to one reviewed previously but for the vintage, tonight I’m tackling a wine that’s identical to a prior review but for the grape. I reviewed the 2007 Mercer Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon at the end of March, and tonight I stick with the same vintage (2007), the same producer (Mercer) and the same subregion (Columbia Valley in Washington State), but I’m subbing out one full-bodied red (Cab) for another (Merlot). As I look back on my previous Mercer review, it strikes me how similarly these two wines have been put together; both are built to pop, pour and enjoy in the near term, with big accessible fruit and no hard edges, and both are ripe, friendly and easy to drink. Both are also a direct shipment from the tasty factory — they’re absolutely delicous, the Merlot even more so than the Cab. I bought this wine over the weekend from Highlander Wine & Spirits because it was crazily on sale: half off normal retail price at $20! It’s one of my rules in life not to turn down Washington State wine when it’s 50% off…I’m principled that way.
Despite being a fairly young wine, this Mercer is distinctly NOT purple in colour. It’s more of a dark garnet/burgundy in the glass, not at all faded but still a shade away from the deep eggplant hue you see in most big reds early in their bottle lives. The nose is almost all bright intense red fruit, mainly sweet cherry, ripe to the point where it seems slightly candied (although not artificially so). There are a few other underlying aromas — tobacco and mint — but the fruit is the story here, as it is on the palate, where gobs of concentrated raspberry, cherry and (believe it or not, a rarity in wine flavours) grape notes coat your tongue with each sip. Again, the fruit has a slightly sweet taste, and is complemented by dessert-friendly secondary flavours like vanilla, baking spices and anise, but it is kept from being cloying by a nice bitter streak that kicks in on the midpalate and runs through the finish. The Mercer is lush and full-bodied, with gentle structure (medium levels of acidity and soft, fine tannins) and a really solid finish, one that perfectly mirrors the flavours of the wine while it’s in your mouth.
I can tell you from immediately recent personal experience that this is a perfect Sunday night burger wine. Despite being of high quality, everything about it screams casual, so while I wouldn’t necessarily recommend serving it at a white-tie dinner, it would go great with most roasted or grilled meats that you would normally eat on the weekend. It’s also so sweet and ripe that it’s easy to enjoy by itself, without food. Not sure if I’d be happy paying $40 (its regular retail price) for it, but at $20 it’s a screaming deal and a thoroughly likable and enjoyable bottle.
$35 to $45 CDN (but on sale now for $20!)[Wine Jargon Notes: midpalate/finish = when you taste a wine, the initial taste impression you get is called the attack; the final taste impression as and after you swallow is the finish; everything in between is the midpalate]