Is All US Wine The Same?

A lot of wine from California started tasting all the same a few years ago.  Last year it really peaked.  Yes, this is a broad generalization that's unfair to many highly unique and well crafted wines.  But for all the accuracy in representing varietal characteristics CA winemakers are achieving, there is an awful lot of homogeneity out there- and at every price level. 

So, is all wine in the US the same? 

No.  For two reasons:  First, there are all the exceptions - the ones you're reading this blog to find.  But second, California does not represent the sum total of winemaking in this country, despite what those flashy ads would have you believe.  And, so, in an effort to expand our horizons and make new discoveries, we're going to be making a deliberate shift in focusing on wines from Washington to see if a different status quo applies.  Other locales will join in the mix, but the theory is that there are much better values finds to be had in those places not spending so much on marketing.

We've heard of (and tasted and reported on and liked - a lot) some terrific wines from Washington, but mostly from larger producers like Columbia Crest and Chateau Ste. Michelle.  But, like California and Oregon, the landscape of eastern Washington state is littered with smaller, and remarkable, wineries.

Word is that Merlot, Cab, and Syrah can achieve insane heights of drinking pleasure in these parts, so that's what we'll focus on.  To help get us kicked off, here are a couple of reds - one of which merits your immediate attention.


2006 Canoe Ridge Merlot Columbia Valley $9
I think I read somewhere that Time magazine did a round up of the best wines from all 50 states and that it picked this one for Washington.  It's decent and priced right, I'll give it that, but it's no homecoming queen.  But before you discount this completely, a newer vintage of this wine will deliver more freshness and round fruit than this one did.  All things considered, respectable at this price point.

2007 Mercer Cabernet Columbia Valley $20
Well, well, well, what do we have here?  Lovely translucence in the glass - pricey looking, and classy, like Sophia Lauren.  Lofty aromatics moving fast, dancing - an indicator of wanting to be decanted to settle down a bit.  But once it touches your lips - whoa - this is a real wine.  Complex, full flavored, and layered without being dense or chunky.  A lovely, generous wine that unfolds with time and could hold its own against Napa wines triple-plus its price.  Sheer drinking pleasure!