There was a nice healthy glass of 2008 Hogue Columbia Valley chardonnay leftover from Saturday night’s fried turkey dinner, so Sunday night I split the glass with my husband to enjoy with our artichokes, salad, and grilled wild salmon dinner. (Yes, the steamed artichoke with olive oil mayo was great with the oaked chardonnay!) A short glass each I knew would not be enough wine so before dinner I scavenged through the various bottles of Washington wine I’ve been collecting taste and discuss here for the WBC-or-Bust contest and
I noticed on the back of a 2005 Washington Hills merlot “a surprising accompaniment to grilled salmon.”
Now I do know that pinot noir is nice with grilled wild salmon, especially New Zealand pinot noir. But merlot? Hmmn, there was an idea. I’d had enough Washington merlots over the past two months that it sounded worth trying so I took up the challenge and opened the bottle of 2005 merlot from Washington Hills that suggested the pairing. After all, during the Washington merlot twitter tasting, all three we tasted (H3, Red Diamond and Chateau Ste Michelle) went great with the seared tuna over field greens salad with sesame oil and rice wine vinegar.
My husband rolled his eyes at the thought and the sight of the deeply colored merlot and stuck with the chardonnay, but I was pleased: this merlot at least was wonderful with the rich, flavorful fish, which my husband had seasoned with meyer lemon, olive oil, salt and paper, and grilled to perfection: crispy on the edge, soft and pink on the thick part. The flavors of dark stone fruits (cherry and plum) and a supple texture with moderate oak really worked well with the sweet, oily fish.
This pairing of Washington merlot and salmon made me rethink both. Because it works! Even my doubting spouse thought so!
Here’s something else that made me think: the label is in English and French which makes me wonder whether this was bottled for export to Canada (more likely than France). Anyone else have ideas, please post them in the comments–or just recommend this wine to your French speaking friends!
Want to learn more about Washington Hills wines? Here’s an article I found from Friday, Jun. 16, 2006 “Washington Hills produces wines for a budget.” (That’s right, you guessed it, not much out there. The Washington Hills site won’t tell you much either. Obviously, Washington Hills is investing its money in making inexpensive wine, not on social media or websites.)
According to the article, Washington Hills is focusing on wines around $5 (I found mine for $3 and would buy it again at that price if I could find it!). The article continues:
Washington Hills was acquired by Andrew Browne and a team of wine industry partners in 2004 from Harry Alhadeff, who founded the brand in 1989 at an old dairy in downtown Sunnyside.
Called Precept Brands, the new company makes its wine at the Coventry Vale custom winery near Grandview.
Besides Washington Hills, Precept’s portfolio include Sockeye, Avery Lane, Shingleback, Pavin and Riley and Barrelstone.
It’s the Washington Hills that’s getting the notice, and the 60,000 cases produced each year are now being sold nationally.
With fresh wild Alaskan salmon coming in to season, I’m looking forward to more pleasant surprises as I explore more red wines to go with my favorite grilled fish!