StateWays Nov/Dec 2015

StateWays is the only magazine exclusively covering the control state system within the beverage alcohol industry, with annual updates from liquor control commissions and alcohol control boards and yearly fiscal reporting from control jurisdictions

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47 StateWays ■ ■ November/December 2015 (92) Beniziger Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 (Sonoma County, CA). The Benziger family has been one of Sonoma's sustainability pioneers, with their well-thought-out vineyard and winery practices. This care and attention to detail are demonstrated by the quality of this wine. Showing lots of dark fruit, berry, plum and cherry on the nose, the palate confi rms the freshness and energy. The fi nish is long and balanced, with plenty of fi nesse and class. ($22) MERLOT (97) Pahlmeyer Merlot 2012 (California). A real powerhouse of a wine. Dense, nearly purple color in the glass, with dark fruit dominating the nose and palate. Hints of spice follow from the nose to the taste, with great fruit and density. An exceptional wine; a real keeper. ($70) (96) Long Shadows Pedestal Merlot 2012 (Washington). A partnership with Michel Rolland, this Washington State wine shows power with elegance. Nearly opaque in the glass, the nose is dominated by black fruit, with hints of spice and smoke. Quite weighty on the palate, the fi nish is long, and superbly balanced. ($60) (95) Chateau Chamaille 2011 (France). A classic old-style Bordeaux Rouge with 90% merlot, 8% cabernet sauvignon and 2% cabernet franc. Fragrances of lilac and berry mingle with a hint of "la garrigue." On the palate, fl avors of blueberry, plum and spice harmonize beautifully with sweet/tart acidity. Tannins are supple; the fi nish is long with a subtle hint of terroir. Very nice now; the wine will benefi t from three to fi ve years of cellaring. ($18) (95) Chateau Dorleac 2012 (France). 97% merlot and 3% cabernet sauvignon. Lush fl oral aromas with hints of fl int and soil lead to ripe fl avors of blackberry and currant, all surrounded by the famous gravelly terroir of Graves. Though approachable now, the wine's fi rm tannins assure several years of rewarding development. This is a wonderful example of Graves Rouge. ($15) (95) Chateau Sainte Barbe 2011 (France). 70% Merlot and 15% each cabernet sauvignon and cabernet franc, aged 9-12 months in oak. Robust and earthy with bold aromas and fl avors of blackberry, currant and vanilla. On the fi nish, fi rm tannins show with a good dose of terroir. Pair this with roast beef, lamb or a thick steak. ($17) (95) Clos Pegase Mitsuko's Vineyard Merlot 2013 (California). A very dark ruby in the glass, the nose is fi lled with spiced black and red fruit, with a hint of smokiness. Mouth fi lling, with lush dark fruit. The fi nish is long and balanced. ($35) (95) Shafer Merlot 2011 (California). This wine is a dense purple color, with spice, black cherries and black fruits on the nose. This merlot shines with amazing juicy and chewy fl avors of cherry pie and strawberry. With an elegant mouthfeel that presents a lengthy, most enjoyable fi nish that begs to have another glass. ($60) (94) Markham Merlot 2012 (California). Dark fruit aroma. Cherry, plum and blackberry fl avors. Substantial tannins. Long fi nish ($23) (94) Miner Stagecoach Vineyard Merlot 2012 (California). Dark ruby in the glass, the nose is dominated by spicy dark fruit, with just a touch of smoke. The palate is an echo of the nose, with good weight and length. A great combination of power and elegance. ($40) (94) Neyers Merlot 2011 (California). A deep garnet-red hue, alluring aromas of black cherry, mocha and caramel, lifted by a fl oral hint. Silky and lush in the mouth, with lovely aromatic perfume to the fl avors of cherry, raspberry, fl owers, cocoa and dusty spices. A nicely balanced, lovely merlot that fi nishes with a fi ne dusting of suave tannins and subtle persistence. This is what merlot should be! ($40) (93) Chateau Ste. Michelle, Indian Wells Merlot 2012 (Washington). Black fruit with spicy notes dominate the nose of this bright, yet full-bodied wine. Dark ruby in the glass, the palate is elegant, with excellent weight and fruit characteristics. Ready to accompany a wide range of dishes, this is a "go-to" meal wine. ($20) (93) Chelsea Goldschmidt Merlot 2013 (California). Winemaker Nick Goldschmidt fi nds that terraced fruit ripens considerably later and brings more complexity and nuance to the fi nished wine. Stylistically, this is a cabernet drinker's merlot. Goldschmidt strives for full body and power in the mouth, with wood behind the fruit. The wine has fresh black raspberry, cedar and toasty vanilla aromas, with cherry, black currant and spice fl avors. ($19) (93) Columbia Crest H-3 (Washington). Outstanding wine and value. Rich with ripe red raspberry and dark chocolate. Long intense fi nish. An elegant mouthfeel full of luscious fl avors that keep on evolving. ($15) (93) Hall Merlot 2012 (California). Deep and rich in color, this wine has aromas of cherry, violets and cocoa, leading to an elegant mid-palate with fl avors of dark cherry, blackberries and some toasted oak. This is just a lovely, supple, soft merlot from one of Napa's best "new" vineyards. ($37) (93) Markham Vineyards Merlot 2013 (California). Dark ruby in the glass, the nose is dominated by dark berry fruit, with a touch of plum. Hints of spice and chocolate contribute complexity. The wine is lush and full-bodied, with a balanced fi nish. ($25) (93) Neyers, Neyers Ranch-Conn Valley 2012 (California). This fabulous merlot is farmed organically and fl aunts pure notes of boysenberry, cocoa and dusty minerality with great fl oral lift. Seamless and long on the palate, a real pleasure to drink. ($31) (93) St. Francis Reserve Merlot 2012 (California). Black and red fruit explode from the glass, with hints of cocoa and spice. A very dark ruby, the wine has great fruit and weight in the mouth. The fi nish is extremely long, and balanced to the very end. ($40) (92) Columbia Winery Merlot 2013 (Washington). Quite a dark ruby color to the eye. Lots of red fruit, with hints of spiciness and toast. Lots and lots of red fruit on the palate, with good weight and breadth. A very food- friendly wine; try it with a wide range of dishes. ($17) THE BEST OF ★ 2015

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