2011 Waters Interlude, $28.00

Meritage is a trade name. Wineries can use the term on their label if they pay a fee to the vintner alliance that coined the term, and in the case of red blends, contain at least two of the main Bordeaux grape varieties (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Malbec, Cab Franc, Carmenere). In Columbia Valley, Washington (especially around Walla Walla) there seems to be so much surplus Syrah that it makes its way into nearly every red blend.  When any of the Bordeaux varieties get blended with Syrah I call those blends Wallawallatages. Jamie Brown, the winemaker at Waters, bucks this trend to make a delicious blend of 61percent Merlot, 14 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 14 Malbec, and 11 Petit Verdot. Dark smoky flavors, reminiscent of pie cherry that overflowed from the crust and burnt on the bottom of the oven, define this wine, but that is complemented with cigar tobacco, rosemary, and a hint of hard-ridden motorcycle leather. Where added Syrah often flavors a wine with fresh fruit sweetness, this wine retains its old world traditional character, with a new world, modern richness. Overstated elegance.