EVERYDAY WINE PICK: Columbia Crest | H3 | Merlot | Horse Heaven Hills AVA | Washington State | 2010 | $15

H3_merlot AFrom the Horse Heaven Hills appellation — an expanse of  high, dry, rolling hills and vineyards that hug the Columbia River Gorge in southeastern Washington State — comes this savory and finessed Merlot.  It offers aromas that hint of pungent red berries, black pepper, and bitters followed by flavors suggesting dried fruit — with a generous portion of cranberry — orange peel, cola, and roasted red pepper, all complemented by subtle hints of dried herbs and char.  The wine is dry, medium-full bodied, and tangy, with firms tannins, mouth-watering acids, and subtle oak (18 months in barrel).  It is a polished and approachable Merlot that offers impressive value ($15 — sometimes even less) and would prove versatile and enjoyable as an everyday red or at a dinner party without costing a fortune.  And given Columbia Crest’s large production and national market reach, the H3 Merlot is fairly easy to find in large wine stores and grocery stores with thoughtful wine selections.  Try it with medium to sharp cheeses, grilled or roasted meats and vegetables, and tomato-based pasta dishes.  For more information about this wine or Columbia Crest’s other Horse Heaven Hills bottlings, visit them virtually at www.columbiacrest.com.

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