Kennedy Shah 2007 Rattlesnake Hills Merlot

80% Merlot, 12% Petit Verdot, 8% Malbec; 14.1% ABV
produced and bottled by Woodhouse Family Cellars, Woodinville, WA from vineyards in the Rattlesnake Hills AVA
$4 at the Berkeley, CA, store on 28 Jan

IMG_1387[1]Regular readers know I usually don’t go for Merlots, but this one was older, in a nice label and bottle, had two of the more unusual Bordeaux varietals blended in significant quantities, and came from a designated American Viticultural Area.  My hunch was correct; this wine is amazingly good for the price.

I first decanted the wine off a medium amount of sediment that had settled over a couple days.  The sediment didn’t taste bad, really, but the wine probably tastes “cleaner” without it.  At first pour, the wine is a little closed and astringent on the finish.  After an hour in a decanter, it had opened and integrated nicely.  To me, it tasted mostly of Petit Verdot, with ripe fruit of blueberry / blackcurrant and dark cherries.  Despite its age, the wine seemed quite solid and youthful, not showing much aged complexity.  The fruit is ripe enough, although not jammy, that I would have guessed its origin was California, not Washington.  Although it’s not tremendously complex, it’s certainly complex enough to be entertaining, and altogether a steal at this price.  (I couldn’t believe it was $4, but that’s what my notes say.)  None of it survived to be sampled the next day.

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28 thoughts on “Kennedy Shah 2007 Rattlesnake Hills Merlot

  1. BargainWhine Post author

    I opened a bottle of this tonight. In contrast to the first bottle that seemed pretty young and solid, this wine seemed perfectly mature. It took nearly two hours in a decanter to really open, hen it showed bing cherry, redder plum, and the same blueberry / blackcurrant in the first bottle. It seems to be fine to drink now, but if this bottle is typical, it won’t hold up that much longer. Has anyone else opened one recently?

    Reply
    1. Darrell

      BW, I just so happened to open the one bottle I bought in Davis and it didn’t do anything for me. Had it for lunch with venison Diane and just couldn’t drink much it was so lacking in A&B. Tried again at dinner and the wood was just a bit more noticeable and I didn’t get any of the fruit you mention nor did it open up. I think the bottle was like of your mature example or worse.

      Reply
      1. BargainWhine Post author

        Hi Darrell. I thought my bottle tonight was very good, just a bit farther along in maturity than the bottle I reviewed. I’m sorry to hear your bottle didn’t work so well for you, but at least you didn’t get more of it.

        Reply
    2. cawinediva2015ca

      We had one this week. I love this wine. We did buy 2 cases, and we have had a little bottle variation. But nothing bad, just not as good as most. And I would buy 2 again if I could find it.

      Reply
  2. Darrell

    This past Sunday I was in the East Bay and visited the San Leandro and Berkeley stores looking for the Kennedy Shah CS and saw just the Merlot in Berkeley, but didn’t pick it up since I really wanted the CS. Was just down the San Mateo peninsula yesterday and checked one San Jose, SSF and SF stores, checking their inventory and whether they had the Merlot; which they didn’t. SF store was my last stop and it then occurred to me, since I am more familiar with the store’s wine flux and inventory, that the Kennedy Shah Merlot was notably absent and possibly an indicator of trouble since this store can order most anything in the warehouse inventory that is decently available. I assume this bottle was available since Vallejo had it. Wine for thought.

    Reply
    1. seedboy

      I understand that the SF store is not corporate owned, it is privately owned. Not sure why it should get any preferential treatment other than its ability to sell, and Oakland sells more wine than any GO.

      Reply
      1. Darrell

        SB, SF Geary GO probably can’t order some of the wines available to the corporate stores, although, as we know, there is a store that seems to be able to get some of those corporate store wines. Due to the SF GO owner and the store’s ability to sell, they can order wines that other stores can’t.

        Reply
  3. Darrell

    The glowing evaluations backed up by case purchases here is significant, but on checking Cellar Tracker evaluations I find something doesn’t jibe.

    Reply
    1. cawinediva2015ca

      Just read Cellar Tracker, and I would agree with your thoughts. But we bought 2 cases of the Merlot and it’s great. Perhaps time was needed. Or, more than likely, bottle variations.

      Reply
      1. BargainWhine Post author

        Yes, with the low price and high quality of my bottle, I was worried that there might be significant bottle variation in this Merlot. I’ve been relieved that, so far, no one has reported any bad bottles, but it’s still a possibility.

        Yesterday, I heard an audio ad for this wine broadcast in the Berkeley store. This makes me suspect the GO was able to buy a lot of it. Certainly the Berkeley store still had several cases out on the floor.

        Reply
        1. seedboy

          The Oakland store got only a few cases and has sold out. I’ve opened three bottles and they have all been great. The Cellartracker feed is marred by one reviewer who gave it a 79 for astringency. I bet the guy likes low acid Parker wines.

          Reply
            1. cawinediva2015ca

              Uh-oh we opened another bottle of KS 2007 Merlot. Big difference. Almost over the hill, with brick coloring at the edge. Taking into account the other reviews, I’m thinking the ugly bottle variation is coming into play.

            2. Darrell

              Diva, you make me feel better for not getting any and your recent bottle might explain the negative Cellar Tracker tastings.

            3. BargainWhine Post author

              Seedboy, I just stopped by the Berkeley store and there were still (again?) about a couple cases’ worth on the shelves.

  4. G.L. Pease

    I picked up the ’07 Merlot over the weekend. It’s the best bargain-priced Merlot blend I’ve found at GO since the $8 Lake & Vine 2010 Lake County “Red Wine”. At $4, I can’t imagine NOT picking up a case. It’s surprisingly youthful for its age, and was very enjoyable with an elk tagine I did tonight. I mostly agree with SB’s comments, though I feel it’s got more than a year’s life left in it. I doubt, however, that it will stick around in the cellar that long. I might put a couple back to open in a couple years.

    Reply
    1. GOWineLover

      Fantastic bargain. Popped and poured through a Vinturi and it is doing well. Believe the hype! Will be sourcing some more soon.

      Reply
          1. Seedboy

            Explain what you mean by corked. I think of that as cork taint, the wet cardboard/cement flavor, and not a cork that has failed at sealing the bottle.

            Reply
            1. GOWineLover

              The wine was practically sparkling with minerality and was extremely sour. Completely off. Have never had a wine that “spoiled.” Maybe corked is the wrong term but it was undrinkable.

  5. Seedboy

    I just opened my third bottle of this, after deciding I wanted to leave some of the 2d for tomorrow. This wine has character and substance. It is a $15 retail wine, but you’d be hard pressed to find a California wine made from Bordeaux varieties at this price that is half this good.

    Reply
    1. Seedboy

      I meant the suggested retail. This wine will not drink well for more than another year, but right now it screams drink me.

      Reply
  6. lim13

    I bought a few bottles of 2009 Kennedy Shah Columbia Valley Tempranillo for $8.99 ea. at the Silverdale GO back in Oct. 2012 and loved it. Though it’s really not relevant to the wine you tasted, except for the producer, I’m including my notes for that wine here: “Just slightly hazy ruby garnet; really needs about an hour and a half to two hours to fully open, then it shows a real smoked meat and cigar box nose; it’s soft and very spicy on the front of the tongue with modest tannins and excellent acidity; flavors of cinnamon, tart pie cherry, espresso and tobacco. I wasn’t expecting much from this wine, as we visited the winery shortly after they opened and were entirely unimpressed. Things have changed. I find this Tempranillo to be very old world style and wonderfully food-friendly; far from “in-your-face”, it’s really quite tasty and well-balanced.” So, Id say you got yourself a really good deal on the Merlot blend, BW.

    Reply

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