Chuck Hill on Wines and Wine Country with links
Main menu bar for Wines Northwest


By Chuck Hill

Chuck Hill, wine reviewer and columnist

About Chuck

Follow Chuck on Twitter




Index to Archived
Wines of the Week


Chuck's Wine Reviews
of other Northwest Wines

Organized by varietal


Book Reviews















































































































Wines of the Week Archive
Archived November 25, 2013
Published November 4, 2013

More Merlot and Malbec Magic
with Sausages and Spaetzle
Part 2 of a 3-Part Series  (See Part 1)  (See Part 3)
By Chuck Hill 

What goes better with flavorful sausages than the German counterpart to pasta, those flavorful mini dumplings spaetzle?  Chef Ted continues to impress the spaetzle cognoscenti producing perfect pillows of pleasure and giving them a quick sauté with flavorful ingredients to accompany delectable sausages.  Merlot and Malbec wines have never had a better pairing. 

If you want to see how Spaetzle is classically prepared, see this video

This week's sausages include Aidells Bacon and Pineapple chicken sausage, and lamb and bratwurst selections from Uli’s Famous Sausage in Seattle’s Pike Place Market.  Enjoy with these juicy, flavorful wines from diverse, west coast origins as well as some selections that span the globe. 


2011 Merlot
Columbia Valley

Abeja winemaker John Abbott is one of a few Washington winemakers who have a fine sense of crafting the best wine that a vintage can offer.  His wines are crafted with the balance, structure and intensity found in the finest bottlings of both the new world and the old.  This is the finest Merlot we have tasted to date, offering deep flavors of black cherry and cassis, and a fine, complex marriage of fruit and oak.  Good acid grip calls out for your finest meats…or sausages if they happen to be on the grill.  Bravo! 

2009 Merlot
Columbia Valley

Winemaker David “Merf” Merfield crafted this Merlot from 10 separate vineyards and 14 different blocks throughout the Columbia Valley AVA.  He blended 15% Cabernet Sauvignon and 4% Petit Verdot with 81% Merlot.  Aromas of vanilla, blackberry and black cherry lead to a soft palate showing flavors of berry, cherry and cocoa. 


Chateau Ste. Michelle
2011 Merlot, Indian Wells
Columbia Valley

Fruit for this wine was sourced primarily from Wahluke Slope vineyards including Chateau Ste. Michelle’s Indian Wells Vineyard.  Fifteen percent Syrah was blended with the Merlot.  Tasters enjoyed the rich fruity flavors and concentrated palate of the wine, finding black cherry, dark fruits, baking spice and vanilla – a nice expression of Washington Merlot without being too ripe or too oaky. 


Canoe Ridge Vineyard
2011 Merlot, The Expedition
Horse Heaven Hills

Canoe Ridge Vineyard winery was opened in 1994 in a building that served as Walla Walla’s streetcar and train engine house in the early 1900s.  The tasting room at this convenient downtown location was remodeled in 2012 and welcomes visitors Thursday through Monday, 11am to 5pm.  Expedition Merlot is blended with 11% Syrah and offers aromas and flavors of dark cherry and berry with notes of vanilla and pepper spice – good value! 

Cathedral Ridge Winery
2011 Merlot
Columbia Valley

Cathedral Ridge winemaker Michael Sebastiani is known affectionately at the winery as Our Amazing Flying Winemaker, since he commutes to the winery at crucial times from his permanent home in Sonoma County.  Owner/cellar master Robb Bell handles day-to-day winemaking tasks.  Together they crafted this tasty Merlot which offers aromas of dark fruits, leather and tobacco leading to flavors of cherry and plum with notes of vanilla and barrel spice. 

Patterson Cellars
2011 Merlot
Columbia Valley

Patterson Cellars production facility is in the Woodinville Warehouse District north of Seattle, and its tasting room is at Hollywood Hill, “just down the road (east) from Chateau Ste. Michelle.”  Winemaker John Patterson crafted this nicely balanced Walla Walla Valley Merlot with a blend of 16% Petit Verdot.  Look for aromas and flavors of red cherry and vanilla with hints of cedar and coffee from barrel aging. 

Arch Terrace
2009 Merlot, Red Mountain
Terra Blanca Estate

Keith Pilgrim grew up in the Napa Valley and later studied both geology and viticulture/enology at the University of California, Davis.  After many years of international travel as a consulting geologist, he fulfilled a life-long dream of becoming a winemaker.  He and his wife ReNae developed their Terra Blanca vineyards and winery at Red Mountain beginning in 1993.  Arch Terrace Merlot offers aromas of red cherry and pomegranate with flavors of chewy red fruits, toasty oak and baking spice. 

K Vintners
2010 Merlot, Stoneridge Vineyard
Columbia Valley

Winemaker Charles Smith accurately describes his Stoneridge Merlot this way: “...aromas of an old leather bound book.  Smooth and  satisfying, red and black currant, cedar, tobacco and subtle spice.”  Tasters found the wine intriguing and “a bit gnarly,” describing the intensity of very ripe fruit combined with good acid grip. 


Whidbey Island Winery
2011 Malbec
Columbia Valley

Greg and Elizabeth Osenbach opened Whidbey Island Winery in 1992 and have acquired a following of customers for their crisp, fragrant estate-grown whites and for classic reds and whites from Crawford Vineyard and other select sites in Eastern Washington.  Greg’s tasty Malbec is great with our sausages, but would also be a superb pairing with lamb, roast beef or other elegant entrees.  Look for aromas and flavors of dried herbs, cassis, dark cherry, plum and hints of orchard blossom and citrus. 


2010 Malbec, Estate
Umpqua Valley

This wine was crafted from grapes grown at Abacela’s Fault Line Vineyard where “vine maturity and  meticulous attention in the vineyard translate into Malbec fruit of uncommon depth and complexity.”  The wine was aged for 20 months in French oak.  Look for ripe aromas and flavors of cherry and blackberry with notes of dried lavender and earthy spice – tight and crisp for food affinity and good aging potential. 

Spangler Vineyards
2011 Malbec
Southern Oregon

This most delightfully unique Malbec offers bright aromas of lavender, lilac and black peppercorns mingling with red fruits and hints of eucalyptus and spice.  The food-friendly palate has flavors of red currant, berry and spicy herbs that gracefully complement our sausage selections 

Three Rivers Winery
2010 Malbec
Columbia Valley

Winemaker Holly Turner blended a splash of Merlot and a drop of Cabernet Sauvignon into her luscious Columbia Valley Malbec to create a juicy and flavorful wine that cries out for superb savory fare.  Aromas and flavors of ripe boysenberry, black currant and dried plum are caressed by a cocoon of toasty oak, vanilla and hints of caramel and smoked meats. 

Hamilton Cellars
2009 Malbec
Columbia Valley

Stacie and Russ Hamilton had a dream to start a winery and took all the necessary steps to achieve that goal.  Starting in 2006, the winery was finally open in 2011 with renowned winemaker Charlie Hoppes on board to craft the wines.  The winery tasting room is in Richland’s Queensgate Village and is open Thursday through Sunday or by appointment.  Their 2009 Malbec offers the big Washington profile of ripe blueberry and cassis with round notes of vanilla and spicy oak – meats from the grill are a great pairing. 

Alta Cellars
2010 Malbec, Weinbau Vineyard
Wahluke Slope

Winemaker Jay Pedersen came from his full-time job in the fishing industry (see last week’s review of his Merlot) to start Alta Cellars in 2007.  His 2010 Malbec is rich with earthy cassis and dark cherry flavors and finishes with notes of spicy oak, caramel and vanilla. 

Novelty Hill Winery
2010 Malbec, Stillwater Creek Vineyard
Columbia Valley

Mike Januik crafts the wines for his own eponymous winery and also for Novelty Hill Winery.  The 2010 Malbec hails from the winery’s Stillwater Creek Vineyards and offers ripe aromas of blackberry, earthy herbs and vanilla with flavors of dark fruits, cocoa and vanilla spice on the palate.  Novelty Hill and Januik wines are tasted at the Woodinville winery daily, 11am to 5pm. 

College Cellars
2012 Malbec, Clarke Vineyard
Walla Walla Valley

This Malbec from the Walla Walla Community College Center for Enology and Viticulture was fermented with whole berries in stainless steel with twice-daily punchdowns and aging in two American oak puncheons.  The resulting wine offers aromas of dark fruits and dried herbs with a palate of ripe plum and black cherry flavors and a finish of vanilla, spicy tobacco and a hint of coconut – good value. 

Wines from other areas 

Cuarto Dominio Chento
2011 Malbec
Mendoza, Argentina

The family of Javier Catena has grown vines in the foothills of the Andes Mountains for more than four generations.  Chento Vineyard Selection Malbec is sourced from the historic lots of the family’s high-laltitude vineyards in the Uco Valley.  The wine is named in honor of Chento, a vineyard worker and guardian of the family vineyards for more than 30 years.  This wine was the favorite of the Malbec flight with tight concentration of black fruits, spicy mineral, plum and chocolate – a fine accompaniment to our sausage and spaetzle fare. 

Don Miguel Gascon
2010 Malbec, Reserva
Mendoza, Argentina

The wines of Don Miguel Gascon are crafted in the City of Mendoza at the same winery that was built by the Spanish visionary whose name it bears.  The winery was begun in 1884 but now houses some of the most advanced winemaking technology in the world.  This Reserva Malbec was another top-ranked wine with tasters who enjoyed its layers of flavors - ripe plum, dark cherry and berry with notes of cocoa and peppery spice. 

Guardian Peak
2011 Merlot
Western Cape, South Africa

South African wine visionary Jean Engelbrecht and golf legend Ernie Els created the Guardian Peak line of affordable and accessible wines, vinted from grapes grown throughout the historic wine regions of South Africa.  Showing ripe red fruits and touches of spicy oak and toffee, this medium-bodied Merlot pairs well with almost any hearty fare, including our sausage and spaetzle soiree.  

Wild Horse Winery
2011 Merlot
Central Coast

Named after the wild mustangs that once roamed the hills above local vineyards, Wild Horse Winery offers several tiers of wines from the most affordable Central Coast selections, to region-designated “Unbridled,” to reserve-styled “Cheval Sauvage.”  This Central Coast Merlot dances with our sausages offering aromas and flavors of light berry and citrus, intense cherry flavor and notes of plum, vanilla and caramel.

#          #          #



Last Week's Reviews

One-year Archive of previous Wines of the Week reviews

Contact Chuck

Back to Chuck's Main Page


Copyright ©  November, 2014  Chuck Hill
All rights reserved.  Last revised: 11/22/2014