It is not everyday that a winery makes a name for itself by producing Merlot. But this is essentially what Northstar has done, despite the Sideways effect – where Sideways lead protagonist Linus loudly proclaims that he is not going to drink any #%$)%* Merlot. Since the movie, Merlot sales immediately plummeted, but sales have improved in recent years.
Northstar was first founded in 1994 at a time when Merlot was the dominant grape in Washington. Current head winemaker since 2005, David “Merf” Merfeld, has been crafting some elegant and rich Merlots. I am impressed with how he approached the colder 2011 vintage. His ‘Premier’ Merlot from 2011 is the highest rated Washington Merlot I’ve rated from that vintage and currently is showing some beautiful balance and black fruit flavors. The new regular release bottling, the 2011 ‘Columbia Valley’ Merlot, showcases this colder vintage with a nice dark fruit flavor profile, alongside elegance and balance. Look for Northstar wines at www.northstarwinery.com You can also find their wines at great Northwest wine shops such as Esquin, Met Market and Total Wines. Here are the new releases from Northstar #northstarwinery
2011 Northstar 'Premier' Columbia Valley Merlot- This colder vintage Merlot needs a one hour decant to open up. In the glass there are aromas of milk chocolate, roasted figs, stewed prune and anise. Lovely minerallity and rich mouthfeel that is very right bank Bordelaise. There are flavors of black cherry, black olive, mocha and cassis. This delicious and dense effort begs for another sip as its of the best Merlots from this vintage. Drink 2015-2028. -93
2012 Northstar Columbia Valley Cabernet-This deep purpled color Cab improves with an hour aeration. There are aromas of cassis, anise, oak and coffee. Lovely mouthfeel and done in the forward style. There are flavors of anise, blackberry, black cherry and a long finish that lingers. This would make a great glass pour at a fine steakhouse. Drink with a juicy ribeye. Drink 2015-2022. -91
2011 Northstar Columbia Valley Merlot-Like its Premier cuvée older brother, this wine needs more than an hour in the decanter to open up. Once aroused it takes on aromas reminiscent of oak, red cherry, sage and dill in this herbaceous nose. The palate is lithe, with vibrant acidity. Flavors of black cherry, vanilla, raspberry and mocha lead to a long finish. This is a tremendous effort considering the coldness of the vintage. Drink 2015-2022. -91