Name: Columbia Crest Grand Estates Merlot
Origin: U.S. – Washington
Producer: Columbia Crest Winery
This wine has a high bar set for it, the 2003 vintage was so good it earned a “Cheap Thrill” seal of approval. They changed the label a bit and I think it looked more elegant before. The label says that a third of the grapes are not crushed but added whole to create a distinctive flavor, which is pretty interesting. The aroma is potent and earthy and the flavor starts soft and fruity but develops on the palate with mild tannins leading to a medium finish. This is a very likable wine, though it lacks the complexity of the 2003 vintage and it costs a dollar more, which is enough to deprive it of another “Cheap Thrill” award.