14 August 2013

Hedges Wines of Washington

I've tried the wines of Hedges Family Estate many times over the years, and was eager to give them a new sip and swirl here in 2013. I was delighted to see that so many of them showed up wearing throwback labels--in this case, a specific design style from the 60s and 70s in the United States, primarily on the west coast. The general idea was to look vaguely European but not adhering to any one country. So you'll see elements of classic German, French, and Italian wine label design all jumbled up. These are more noticeable in the second trio of wines below: elaborate coats-of-arms that don't represent an actual royal house, the diagonal phrase in a different ink, competing gothic and italic calligraphy, gold leaf, etc.

To see some real life examples from the early 70s, check out this vintage book I reviewed in 2007. Alas, I have to remind myself to ignore the fun graphic design and actually taste the wines on their own merits...

2011 Hedges CMS Red
Columbia Valley
49% Cabernet Sauvignon, 47% Merlot, 4% Syrah
$14, 13.5% abv.

Touch of stewed fruit, sour cherry. Mild mouthfeel and a brief finish. Loved this with some stewed pork shoulder.

2011 Hedges Red Mountain
Red Mountain AVA
Cabernet Sauvignon & Merlot
$29, 13.5% abv.

Black cherry and pepper, undertones of plum and blackberry. A pleasant little blend that would go well with a grilled steak on a Saturday afternoon.

2012 CMS Sauvignon Blanc
85% Sauvignon Blanc, 10% Chardonnay, 5% Marsanne
$14, 14% abv.

Crisp and refreshing with notes of apricot and a splash of lemony acidity. Found myself wanting more Marsanne--not because the wine was out of balance, I just love that grape. Serve with Oysters Rockefeller during an appetizer course.

2011 HIP Merlot
Columbia Valley
100% Merlot
$14, 13%

HIP stands for "House of Independent Producers", and this and the next wine focus on a single grape variety from a specific winemaker. This gentle Merlot is definitely made in the French style with mild cherry flavors and a light body, light years away from the bold fruit bombs of California. The first domestic Merlot I've had that I think is appropriate for serving with salmon.

2011 HIP Chardonnay
Columbia Valley
$14, 13.5% abv.

The Chardonnay from this series has a surprising aroma of Meyer lemon, with flavors to match. There is that nice balance between acid and cream, and I served this one with a simple salad topped with dried figs and toasted pistachios and goat cheese.

2011 Descendants Liégeois Dupont Syrah
Red Mountain AVA
100% Syrah
$29, 14% abv.

Lastly, we have a proprietary blend done in a Rhône style. Plum and spice, mild tannins, and a deep, dark finish. A substantial and fruity red that demands a big dish. I had it with a bleu cheese burger, but think that it would be a nice accompaniment to game like venison or duck. Let it breathe and decant for a bit to enjoy all of the flavors of the wine.

Note: These wines were provided as samples.

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