Food & Wine announced its picks for the best wines in America in its 13th annual American Wine Awards, naming the Columbia Crest 2007 H3 Merlot the Best American Merlot Under $20. This widely available Merlot comes from Washington’s Horse Heaven Hills (hence H3), a promising region for complex, full-bodied reds. Its ripe blackberry fruit keeps some needed restraint thanks to the skill of winemaker Ray Einberger.
The vineyards in Horse Heaven Hills are the source and inspiration behind the H3 wines. The hills have been home to the Columbia Crest winery for more than two decades, and it is this heritage, combined with innovative winemaking and vineyard knowledge, that allow our winemaker to create wines that capture the unique terroir of the region.
A perfect ripening season with full crop yields and restrained sugar levels led to out- standing wines from Washington state’s vineyards in 2008.
Harvest began 10 days later than normal due to cool spring weather and a moderate summer. Hot weather in August provided ideal ripening conditions for grapes across all varietals and harvest was quickly ramped up in order to obtain fruit at the optimum ripeness . The H3 Merlot entices the nose with aromas of blueberry, cassis and hints of tobacco and spice aromas. The silky and sweet mid-palate introduces slight dusty, earthy, and rich berry notes which cumulate in the long and concentrated finish.
Date of Tasting: February 2008
Country of Origin: Washington, United States
Price on Date of tasting: $14.99