Despite the Frenchified name, this vineyard is actually in Washington state, a prime location, so it would seem, for the production of domestic Merlots. This wine is probably one of the first nearly pure Merlots I've tasted in quite a while (the blend is actually 96% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 2% Cabernet Franc). I paid $14 for the bottle.

The wine was billed as "silky," which seems to be something of an embellishment. It is smooth, in its way, with a long and dry finish. But insofar as taste is concerned, the wine is very aggressive, whacking you about the head with sharp, fruity flavors of berries and (to a lesser extent) plums. The vinyard's website explicitly states that the wine is aged for 18 months in barrels of both French and American oak, but there must be very low char in those barrels, because I couldn't discern much of a woody taste or aroma. Then again, I currently am coming off a cold.

It is a good wine for the price, and certainly is somewhat exotic in its non-reliance on Cabernet to bring it into line with the mainstream. I paired it with a steak and rice dinner; but the wine is not very tannic and (given its fruity character) would probably match up better with more lively dishes. I also served it at room temperature (about 68-70 degrees here), and I think it would benefit from a few extra degrees of chill. I'm not sure I would go back to this exact wine, but I will buy the 1998 vintage when it appears, since I understand the Washington harvest was better that year, and the wine will be a shade less acidic.

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