by Fred McMillin
for September 29, 1998


Preston's Merlot Magic


"Without question, some of America's best Merlots come from Washington State vines."

...Frank Prial, New York Times

The Rest of the Story

Preston WineryIn view of Prial's praise, this will hardly come as a surprise. My tasters checked out Merlots from a dozen West Coast wineries. A Washington Merlot won by a substantial margin. In fact, it was voted the best Merlot tasted so far this year. The envelope, please.

The Wine

1994 Reserve Merlot, Washington
Preston Premium Wines, Pasco, Washington
Critic's Opinion—"Long, rich and flavorful, leaning strongly toward spicy oak flavors," from the Wine Spectator. Food Pairing—Tomato, Basil and Cheddar Cheese Pie, a James Beard American classic modified by Chef Mary Evely in her Vintner's Table Cookbook, p.139. (Mary added some ingredients to prevent tomato acids messing up the Merlot.)
Contact—Cathy Preston-Mouncer, (509) 545-1990
Price—$19 range


The first vines in the State of Washington were grown from seed brought by the Hudson's Bay Company in 1824. That was one year after the final, wine-making Spanish mission was built in California. The missionary wine did not impress Hudson's Bay exec Sir George Simpson. After one tasting, he wrote, "Politeness alone induced me to swallow it."!

Note—For more about Preston, see the Winery of the Week of WineDay on May 29, 1998 titled "Preston of Washington."

About the Writer

Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for 30 years on three continents. He currently teaches wine courses at San Francisco State and San Francisco City College and is Northern California Editor for American Wine on the Web. In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored Fred with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded to American wine writers.



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