Friday, April 15, 2011

Hedges Red Mountain

Hedges Family Estate
Red Mountain
Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Cabernet Franc
Benton City, Washington, U.S.A.
$19.84 -- Twin Liquors, Bee Cave, TX

Color: Deep strawberry jam
Nose: Cherry, sage, hint of orange, vanilla
Body: Medium
Front: Tart cherries
Middle: Caramelly cedar
Back: Spice, chocolate
Burns clean?: Yes
Cap: Cork

It's time to figure out which Washington reds I like. This one is great for the money. It's phenomenal with a pepper steak, not bad with a romaine-and-egg salad. It doesn't seem to evolve much as it opens--the tannins soften considerably, suggesting the wisdom of a year or two of patience (I'm going to get a couple of bottles to lay down). But the cherry-and-oak driven profile stays true for hours.

I reckon some folks will say this is over-oaked, but I'm not sure, as the fruit and acid still come through; others might think it one-dimensional, but that doesn't tally for me either, because of the herby dimensions. Whoever made this wine seems to me to be wondering, How can I make a Merlot-based blend that tastes like serious Bordeaux, yet also tastes like the Pacific Northwest? (If I learned that they fudged down a half-point on the alcohol level, however, I'd not be surprised.)

I think that it's nicely balanced, and that with a little time--or the right pairing--it'll be more interesting than many wines at this price. (My latest thing is to try all wines with pickles: this one tastes like a McDonald's cheeseburger when paired with pickles, and that is just awesome.) {Note, in 2014: Much, much better. Haunting, rich, and delicious.}