Columbia Crest H3 Horse Heaven Vineyard Merlot 2008

Columbia Crest H3 Horse Heaven Vineyard Merlot 2008
Washington, $23

I’m all for boutique producers who slave over small vineyards and hand craft miniscule quantities of wine: it’s passionate and exciting. But if there’s a wine category that I have the utmost faith in, it’s the premium line from a large producer. For starters, they have the financial clout to get their pick of vineyards and grapes. Second, they have already invested in cutting-edge machinery to produce vast amounts of their basic wine, so the cost of technological upgrades isn’t stuck solely on you, the buyer. Third, the brave souls who make everyday wine for the majority of their career get really excited when they get to work on a boutique project.

The confluence of these factors is a bottle like this excellent Merlot from Washington. I’m don’t think I’ve ever had a bad bottle from Columbia Crest (they’re part of the mammoth Chateau Ste. Michelle group) and their H3 line represents some of the best value and most consistent wines available in Canada. The Merlot has waves of red berry flavour and enough of a hint of tobacco and earth to let you know it’s serious. Ignore the fact that in the US this is $12 bottle of wine and focus on the fact that if it were from Italy, France or even Canada, it would be $40.

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