The twitter machine was all a buzz last week with the talk of #WAMerlot, particularly those of Northwest winos. For the uninitiated, that doesn't mean a pound of WAMerlot or the number of WAMerlot you're able to drink. In the twittersphere, "#" is a hashtag; a way of listing a particular subject or event to make it easily searchable. What #WAMerlot did was allow people from all over the country to participate in what its organizer, Josh Wade of the Drink Nectar called "the largest simultaneous tasting of Washington wine anywhere."
People participated in #WAMerlot from their homes and from wineries in Walla Walla, Tri-Cities and Woodinville that hosted #WAMerlot tweetups. In many cases a few wineries threw in together to host events and provide Washington Merlot for tasting. There were wine bars and restaurants hosting Merlot flights for a fee, and private #WAMerlot events where a short guest list was established and admission was free.
All these events were organized to promote Washington Merlot. In many cases the rallying cry was to undo some of the damage that Merlot suffered at the hands of Paul Giamatti's character Miles in Sideways. The #WAMerlot event fell on Thursday March 25th from 5pm to 7pm, just one day prior to Taste Washington, an enormous wine undertaking. It was a good way to get your liver warmed up, as one winemaker said.
While Merlot has seen it's cache change since that fateful movie, it is still the number one purchased wine in the United States. It's seen as an approachable wine that pairs well with a variety of foods and has a nose and palate that are broadly appealing. Though those statistics make it clear that Merlot is still a wine of the people; it's wine aficionados and wanna be wine snobs who have turned up their noses, pun intended, at this great grape.
Gwynne and I went to the #WAMerlot event at Full Pull Wines in Seattle's SoDo neighborhood. Full Pull Wines' Paul Zitarelli offers Washington wines from small producers as well as hard to find boutique gems. When he finds a great deal, he emails his list. If you opt to purchase that wine, you can decide to have it shipped to you or you can become part of the Thursday Pick Up crowd. This gets you a bigger discount and an opportunity to come by the place and taste some of the wines.
Full Pull is hard to find. It's got a door sign smaller than 1 foot square, so you have to be on the look out. The party was already in full swing when we got there. We were greeted by Paul and Emily and sent over to the bar where we found Doug Haugen of Wino Magazine already into the variety of Merlots assembled before us.
We began with a Hestia Cellars limited release and Emily told me she'd introduce me to the winemaker Shannon who was "around here somewhere" but he snuck out with Paul to catch the Sounders game before I could say hello. From there we moved into a Ward Johnson 2007 Red Mountain Merlot that I learned Kurt Johnson had brought by just on my account. (Pretty cool, Kurt.) The WJW Merlot was deep and dark and displaying cherries on the palate.
When it was all said and done, we tasted probably two thirds of the 12 to 15 Merlots they had assembled at Full Pull. Our two favorites were the Alexandria Nicole Gravity 07 Merlot and the Kyra Merlot, both of which we had decided to purchase. Doug from Wino and I both were having a hard time believing the price point on the Kyra: One of the best wines in the house was only $13.
This was our first Twitter related event, I had a good time; Gwynne was a bit let down by the lack of actual social interaction. To her point; she was right, much of the time was spent sipping and then texting away to update the rest of the world what we were tasting in these brilliant Washington Merlots. The conversation was sparse but it was great meeting some others from the wine blog community.