Gordon Brothers Merlot Columbia Valley 2008

gordon-brothers-merlot-2008Aside from Evel Knievel, Gordon Brothers may be the only other reason you’ve heard of the Snake River. A family business founded in the Eighties alongside the Snake riverbank in Washington’s Columbia Valley, Gordon started as a Northwest vinicultural pioneer and evolved into a steady producer of well-priced wines. Today, about 25,000 cases flow from them annually.

Now in stores, the PLCB has delivered a large lot of the winery’s 2008 Merlot – their next-most-current release of the varietal. At $20, this would be a wine to pursue. At 11 bucks in Pennsylvania, it’s one to run to.

The word for this Chairman’s Selection is dark: Earth, chocolate, fruit, coffee, color. The nose is typical of what I find with many Washington wines – a sweet, damp earthiness. This is not Big Dumb Merlot by a stretch. From first pour, there’s a sting of acidity as the liquid pecks the lips. A good sign of food-friendliness. The vanilla notes are subtle but the influence of wood makes itself known in other ways, delivering an interesting green element to the mix. The more I sample this intense, complicated wine, the more it suggests a wild hair spirit. With time en plein air, hints of licorice (or is it chicory?) come on to jazz up the lingering finish.

The wine spent 20 months in oak and weighs in at 13.7% alcohol – tolerable by Merlot standards. During the winemaking process, a dram of Cabernet Sauvignon and even less Syrah were cut in, adding structural oomph and some spice. Not a knock but there is considerable residue in the bottle. All the better for flavor but you might want to rustle a strainer from the bottom of the drawer.

For added clarity, note that Harrisburg refers to the wine as Gordon Brothers Merlot Columbia Valley but it’s officially dubbed Estate Grown, as all of the fruit was grown in the Gordon vineyard. It’s delicious and heady and, for the price (one of the best you’ll find), it’s a terrific buy.

In 2012, after the release of this bottling, the company decided on a new branding direction, changing their name to Gordon Estate. Good knowledge for future purchases. 88-90

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