Garnier Vineyards 2016 Merlot

History runs deep at Garnier

The Mayerdale Estate has been a working farm and orchard for more than a century. It was started by Mark “Markie” Mayer, who believed that its unique location on the rail line would make it possible to bring fresh Hood River Valley apples to the streets of New York for a dollar apiece ($25 in today’s dollars!)

It was the historic Mayerdale that first attracted Tom Garnier two decades ago. A life long Portlander, he was riding his bike in the hills of Mosier when he discovered the stunning white house on the hill surrounded by cherry orchards. By 2002, he’d planted grapes and begun the long process of restoring the elegant estate.

A portion of the property was also once owned by Masuo and Shidzuyo Yasui, Hood River orchardists and shopkeepers. In 2015, their son Minoru was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom for challenging Japanese internment all the way to the Supreme Court in 1943.

Just this past June, President Jimmy Carter stopped by. He was hosting a Carter Center retreat in Stevenson, Washington and brought a few folks to Garnier to taste wine. He reportedly enjoyed the Primitivo, while First Lady Rosalyn Carter enjoyed a Sauvignon Blanc.

Cellar 503 Tasting Notes

Garnier Vineyards, Mosier, Oregon
2016 Merlot

Oh no, Merlot! Like Chardonnay, I often hear folks express disdain for the historically popular grape. Whether they’re channeling their inner Paul Giamatti or reacting to the late 90s overproduction of California flabby-but-fruity jam bombs, I don’t know.

But here’s what you need to know: Oregon winemakers – like Garnier consulting winemaker Anna Matzinger – have been bringing Merlot back in line, protecting its structure and depth.

The Garnier Merlot has the traditional notes of blackberry and currant but is elevated beautifully with licorice, sandalwood, and cocoa. Those blackberries come back on the palate along with raspberries, boysenberries, chocolate and anise. Velvety smooth tannins nicely complement the backbone of acid that gives this wine its wonderful balance.

This will be perfect with those late summer barbecues and grilled meats, and still fantastic as we transition into hearty stews and roasts in the fall.

A Cellar 503 selection in August 2018, Columbia Gorge Columbia Gorge | Merlot

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