Vineyard Shot


Paul Gregutt finds Forgeron Merlots Absolutely "Improve with Age"

Take a wine of a certain age, open it, & taste it over a 2-day period. Not many can pass that test as this [2003 Merlot] did..."

Paul Gregutt, Unfined & Unfiltered -, July 14 2013

Can Washington Merlots improve with Age? Absolutely!

Wine writers (I plead as guilty as any) love to make predictions about how well & how long young wines will age. It’s a time-honored part of writing tasting notes, & it’s intended to be helpful, although I am never entirely sure that it is.

For one thing, it encourages the bad habit of squirreling away young wines until they reach some magical “best age for drinking.” There is no such age, for any wine, any more than there is a single year when a child is best & should be enjoyed.

For another, predictions about aging are a guess, pure & simple. Every writer has his or her own methodology & predilections for making them, but who ever goes back to see how they turned out? Well, in fact, I do.

Whenever an opportunity to taste older wines appears, I am delighted to see how they are doing. Given that my memory is as leaky as an old tub, there’s little chance I will be prejudiced by recalling what I said about the wine when it was first reviewed. So I make my notes & then go back to look up what my previous review had to say.

Recently, while tasting through a selection of excellent new releases from Marie-Eve Gilla, Forgeron’s founder & winemaker, I had the opportunity to revisit a 2003 Forgeron Merlot. This is a wine that I had spoken of fondly to the winemaker some years ago. How, I wondered, had it aged?

In February of 2006, it was poured at a special event honoring the late Devin Derby. At that time it had just been bottled & was not yet released, & yet on that occasion it was clear that it was a marvelous wine, rich & muscular, dense & deep, & I immediately was drawn to it.

My (unpublished) notes from that dinner read “this Forgeron 2003 Merlot is dense & beautifully concentrated. This smoky, inky, tarry Merlot is loaded with cassis & black cherry fruit. Flavors linger beautifully, suggesting a good 6 – 8 years of life ahead.

I next tasted it in December of 2007, when it had been officially released. I gave it a 90 point score (in retrospect too low), writing “this nicely aged, 100% Merlot opens with round plum, cassis & black cherry fruit. It’s a blend of Klipsun, Boushey, Clifton & Alder Ridge grapes, from 4 different AVAs. Its long, thick tannins extend the palate impression & the nicely melded fruit & barrel flavors linger beautifully.” I stuck with my earlier prediction that it had a good 6 – 8 years of life ahead.

So here it is, 6 years later, & I opened the wine again. Softer, smoother, a bit lighter, it remained a riveting bottle of Merlot, with maturing, but far from over-the-hill secondary fruit flavors, silky tannins, & perfect balance. I drank a glass & put the cork back in the bottle. I returned to it the next day, only to find it was every bit as good, with no sign of decay.

If anything can possibly prove longevity, I think that is it. Take a wine of a certain age, open it, & tas

te it over a 2-day period. Not many can pass that test as this one did.

The newest Forgeron Merlot, from the 2010 vintage, has every bit as much potential. An A+ trio of vineyards – Olsen, Stonetree & Boushey – contribute equally to the blend. Tight, tart & perfectly proportioned, this young wine at first offers scents & accents of sweet tomato paste & a whiff of oregano, then opens further with lush cherry flavors & a dash of dried tobacco.

I look forward to tasting it again in 6 – 8 years.

Paul Gregutt, Unfined & Unfiltered -, July 14 2013