Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Three Rivers Winery - 2006 Merlot

The Three Rivers Winery is located in Walla Walla, Washington, the town so nice you have to say it twice.  I was there on business earlier this year, and had the
fortunate opportunity to sample wines from five of the local wineries. 

Three Rivers is located a few miles west of Walla Walla and is named for the three rivers of the area:  the Snake, the Walla Walla and the Columbia Rivers.  Walla Walla itself is located in the Columbia Valley, a wine-making area since the 1970's, but really starting to find a national following since the early 2000's.   I learned that Three Rivers is one of the oldest wineries in the area, and they use grapes from various vineyards around the Columbia Valley.

While in Walla Walla, I visited the local community college.  They happened to have a program on vinticulture, and my guide was pleased to tell me about the area.  The Columbia Valley in general, and Walla Walla in particular, is located in the high desert of Washington, bordered on one side by mountains and to the west there is just dry, high plains.  This unique combination of dry warm days and cool nights helps create some really great grapes.  Until I visited the area, I was most familiar with their white wines.  But Walla Walla wineries are better known for their reds.

We sampled a few of their wines and I settled on the 2006 Champoux Vineyard Merlot.  It was a little pricy for my ordinary purchase (around $40) but I had the idea I would save this beautiful merlot for a special occasion, my 20th wedding anniversary later in the year.  It seemed like it would make an ideal companion to a nice meal of filet mignon, potatoes, spinach and a salad.

My anniversary has come and gone, and we did not have the delicious filet mignon dinner I had originally planned.  But the days and evenings have quickly grown much cooler, and I made a pasta/sausage and tomato casserole, something hearty to warm us all up on an early fall evening.  I thought this wine would compliment the meal quite well, especially since the house is cooler than it has been in months.
I was not disappointed.  I uncorked the merlot about 15 minutes before the meal was served.   One glass with dinner was very nice.  It was a smooth merlot, but not the usual winy-yet-bland merlot you'll sometimes get with a mass-produced merlot.  The rich yet subtle tastes of the wine really unfolded as dinner wore on.  Initially, it was only marginally better than many mid-range merlots I've had. 

But then I poured my second glass.  And as the temperature in my house went down a few degrees, so did the temperature of the wine.  And that is when the richness of the wine was truly revealed.  What had initially begun as a tasy merlot (but is it really worth $40?) blossomed with the chillier temperature and became a superior example of all that a merlot should be.  Hints of chocolate and coffee comingled with a slight slight whiff of cherry.  The blend of the three provided a truly distinctive merlot.  As I sit here finishing my second, cooler glass, I am really torn between pouring another one, just to experience that rich, taste again.  Only 210 cases were produced, so it is truly a boutique wine.  I don't know if any bottles are still available, but I would wholeheartedly recommend this wine for a special occasion.  Definitely serve it with red meat.  It was very good with the pasta and sausage, but it deserves a place beside steak and veggies.

Alcohol content:  14%  Approximate Price per bottle:  $40.00

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like ya kinda liked it....ha!
    Great review Beth!
    Mark Fellure