Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Staton Hills 1995 Merlot

I won’t be surprised if you don’t know this label. 

In 1999 the Staton Hills Winery was purchased by the Chalone Group (now Diageo Chateau & Estate Wine), and the name was changed to Sagelands Winery. Staton Hills Winery originally opened in 1984. Located just south of Yakima, my wife and I used to visit Staton Hills on the way to and from Seattle. I recall tasting there on a Thanksgiving weekend, large Christmas tree, roaring fire, a lovely sparkling wine and Pinot. This bottle of Merlot has resided in our wine fridge for more than a decade. Christmas day, my wife decided it was time to open it. No, I was not consulted.

We were in a hurry to visit friends for Christmas dinner, so lacking time to consider a glass, I had a quick taste and spit. At first I thought the wine had turned, it seemed quite sharp/acidic tasting and very thin. On day two, I changed my opinion of this older wine.

The next day and for the following few days, I reconsidered this 1995 Washington Merlot. It is showing its age, reddish brown color on the edges, though clear and clean. On the nose I’m reminded of an old wine cellar, mostly dusty, wine-soaked oak. But how does it taste? There is still some faded fruit, but the oak components are more prominent:  leather, spice, a touch funky, with some subtle cherry in the background, it is also pleasantly dry and smooth.

Call me surprised that this Washington Merlot is still holding up. While I have few occasions to enjoy older Washington wines, it was a pleasure to drink this one. So I’d like to make a toast to Staton Hills Winery, “Thank you for the wine and the memories.”

Cheers!