Cloudlift Cellars 2013 Panorama Merlot, Columbia Valley, $26

cloudlift-cellars-panorama-merlot-2013-labelA product of South Seattle Community College’s Northwest Wine Academy, Tom Stangeland devoted more Merlot than ever before to his proprietary Panorama red blend – enough (78%) to prompt him to label it it as Merlot. He pulled from Joel Hattrup’s acclaimed Elephant Mountain Vineyard in the Rattlesnake Hills, Arianses Vineyard on the Wahluke Slope and Alder Ridge in the Horse Heaven Hills, and there’s ample oak in the expressive aromatics, which lead with cocoa powder, toasted walnut and cinnamon before black cherry and dried blueberry arrive along with black olive, Wheatbix and cedar. A masterful job of tannin management allows for a round, plush and extended presentation of dark blue fruit that’s capped by more toasty oak. When making Coq au Vin, Stangeland will reach for his Panorama, but he also suggests  pasta with a homemade marinara, Eggplant Parmesan and flatbreads.

Rating: Outstanding!

Production: 166 cases

Alcohol: 14.3%

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