The Mercer Estates Horse Heaven Hills Malbec 2015 is 78% Malbec and 22% Cabernet Sauvignon sourced from the estate Spice Cabinet Vineyard located on a hillside at a bend in the Columbia River in the Horse Heaven Hills AVA inside the Columbia Valley AVA of Washington. Horse Heaven Hills is located in southern central Washington not far from the Oregon border. Mercer Estates is a family owned winery, they have been in the fruit and crop business for decades and won the Washington Winery of the Year for 2016. This Malbec was fermented in large oak vats and was aged in new and old French oak barrels for 18 months. This is a single vineyard Estate wine, aged in oak for a year and a half and yet it sells for around $21, that in my opinion is very reasonable. The alcohol content is a stout 14.8%.
The color is seriously black with blood-red highlights, in Cahors, France the Malbec is known as the Black wine and it looks like that color holds true in Horse Heaven Hills. The nose is dark berries, menthol, vanilla, plum, dark chocolate, and Starbucks Mocha. This is a dry, balanced, fruit-forward, but not too fruit-forward wine. It tastes if blackberry, black Twizzlers (not sweet), plum, chocolate, and iced coffee. The mid-palate shows tart cranberry, vanilla and smooth plum. The tannins let you know they are there, if you drink a lot of value priced wine the tannins usually come up missing, but here they give you a little tug. The acidity is well-balanced by the body of the wine. The finish is full-bodied and last for some time.
The Mercer Estates Horse Heaven Hills Malbec 2015 is a very solid wine made with no compromises. It tastes great, the more this Malbec opens up the more developed the flavors become. We usually write about wines in the value ten buck range and they are almost always made with compromise. The grapes are sourced from far and wide to bring the costs down, oak barrels that have been used before and are therefore less expensive are used, if oak barrels are employed at all, rather than oak staves, chips or powder. They produced large quantities of the wine to bring the per bottle costs down. Value wine-makers today are magicians they make very drinkable wine using very sophisticated tricks of the trade. But not here, this Malbec (with a good dash of Cabernet Sauvignon) is the expression of a single vineyard, the wine-makers put the juice thru the production techniques that they thought best and used an oak barrel regiment that best served the wine. No compromises, wine made the old school way (except for the mechanical grape picker machine) and yet is well priced and a good value.