Red Diamond Winery 2008 Washington State merlot

Welcome to the Sean Patrick issue! This is a faux-celebrity, industry-wine blogger biography roast, imitating the antics of fellow dipshit (and future wine blogger) Charlie Sheen. So, this little prick was born south of Boston, MA back in the mid-60s and
probably after the parents had a bad LSD trip while listening to Sam the Sham and the Pharoahs. When he was 4 years old, he was left with irresponsible babysitters who, despite preventing Sean from suckling on cow teets, let him watch SpongeBob Squarepants cartoons and recent studies have shown that can lead to short attention spans (in addition to penis size) and learning problems, which explains why he couldn’t get a real job so he begged the local wine commission to write his welfare checks. When he was 7 years old, his cranky mother, Marjorie, took him to Arizona and in order to quiet Sean’s incessant demands to suckle on mommy’s teets, Marjorie wrapped clear packing tape around his head and mouth while their SUV was parked in front of a store in Cottonwood. Fast
forward to when he was 31 years old (11 years ago) and with undocumented wife and bastard mulatto child as they drove through the Keys in Florida. On a sunny Sunday morning, police stopped their car after receiving reports that they saw a woman exposing herself through the sunroof. Police reasoned it wasn’t the immigrant wife because she was driving, but they noticed Sean, clothes-less in the passenger’s seat and a half-empty bottle of cheap Walla Walla wine between his bony legs, and took a tape-measure to confirm his two-inch penis was well-hidden in his half-shaved bush. The officer commented about Sean’s moobs and figured the witnesses actually mistook Sean for a woman. Then, as Ryan pointed out, this past weekend, Sean posted on Craigslist a rental for his Sybian at $100 for 1.5 hours (along with a free bottle of sample Walla Walla premium wine). The offer was cleverly disguised to be from Orlando, FL, but we all know Wallingford is nowhere close to Disney World! Such is the fucked-up life of Sean Patrick…

Speaking of things that are not as they appear… Red Diamond Winery out of Paterson is actually part of Ste. Michelle Wine Estates. Call it what you want, I call it as just another label to hog up the store shelves for the parent company. There’s nothing wrong with that; it’s just a good marketing plan in action. It could also be a winemaking gamble as this is one of the sweeter merlots I have come across. Winemaker Laura Sorge is a Seattle native who attended the enology program at WSU before committing full-time to Columbia Crest Winery. She learned her specialty in red wines from mentors Ray Einberger and Juan Munoz Oca, and was likely “gifted” her own label, similar to Keith Kenison’s 14 Hands project. She commented, “It’s a wonderful thing to look at a glass of wine and see the reflection of everyone who has helped create it. It reminds you that winemaking really is a blend of science and artistry.” True words confirmed from this blogger, who has contributed to making some damn fine wines in Woodinville.

So what is the Red Diamond style? The wines are crafted “to be food-friendly, straightforward wines, designed for approachability and easy drinking…with luscious, fruit-forward flavors.” This is the typical jingle of a mass-produced, simple wine made for a weeknight. Red Diamond began in 2003 as a “restaurant-only” wine and quickly sold-out of their 25,000 case inaugural release of merlot. The following year, they added cabernet and chardonnay to the portfolio and then added “shiraz” the year after. Nothing but solid marketing with the top four “fighting varietals.”

Here’s where it gets disturbing. Wine & Spirits magazine named Red Diamond merlot “One of the Top Ten merlots in America!” (April 2007). What??? Over Leonetti and Pahlmeyer? Quilceda Creek and Columbia’s ‘Milestone’? L’Ecole No 41 and Facelli? Credibility lost. Much worse was discovering the 2007 version of this merlot was retailing for about $75 (for a standard 750ml bottle) at a department store in Seoul, Korea. A wine blogger there bought it on ‘special’ for about $35. Huh? This is a second-from-the-bottom-shelf wine at supermarkets in Seattle. Currently, the 2008 version retails (no special deals)
for $7.49, and less than $7 if bought as part of a 6-pack. So then, the strategy of the Washington Wine Commission is to sucker foreign countries into buying our lowest tier of  “value” wines and charging the equivalent of Chateau Ste. Michelle’s best wines, such as their tasting-room only grenache or late-harvest riesling. Look, it may work for 1er Cru Bourdeaux, but this retarded plan of passing off simple wines as representative of what Washington has to offer will have consequences down the road. Just think how you would feel if you went to France and was able to purchase a bottle of 1982 Chateau Pichon-Lalande for US $20 or a Chateau Mouton-Rothschild for US $40 and came with one free? Heck, no wonder Washington wines are slow to be accepted around the world. Hell, what do I know? After all, CSM controls the Wine Commission so all those involved are really just puppets of a taxpayer-funded extension of CSM’s marketing department. That’s the current state of Washington wine…

Readers can thank a fellow reader for the review of this wine. An idea was hatched where “lighter merlots” were preferred over a wickedly expensive Northwest pinot noir paired with local fare. I agreed and wanted to confirm. I got my confirmation.

To the wine…

Food pairing was grilled Chinook salmon, locally caught in the San Juan Islands, and done three ways: (1) basted with teriyaki sauce then topped with fresh-chopped peach mixed in a mango/mandarin French jam; (2) topped with fresh-cut dill stirred in full-fat mayonnaise; and (3) a WAwineman-exclusive marinade featuring ginger, garlic, pico de gallo, rice wine, onion powder, and other ingredients. I may share the recipe if you’re nice! Yeppers, you were right, Scott.

Tasted at 56-61 degrees on the IR temp gun. Value wines are better served at cooler temps. Nose: black cherry crème. Color: dark magenta. Mouthfeel: very light. Tail trail: 3 seconds. Flavors: domesticated black fruits, burnt toast. Some sweetness detected.

Alcohol: 13.5%. Harvested September 18, 2008. Yeasts: Premier Cuvee and Pasteur Red. Aged for 12 months in French and American oak. 7% cabernet sauvignon, 1.4% cabernet franc. TA 0.53. pH 3.73. A lot of cases. Rated: 85. Value: $5. Paid: $8. Music pairing: “Who’s That Girl” by Guy Sebastian. A dedicated music video pairing to my Korean readers: “Dance Across The Floor” by Jimmy Bo Horne. This is WAwineman…uncorked, uneducated but not uncouth.

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2 Responses to Red Diamond Winery 2008 Washington State merlot

  1. Well, I’m honored – to be included in the second half of this review instead of the first half! I didn’t think my subtle mention that medium- and lighter-bodied Merlots had their place as a substitute for Pinot Noir was that “insightful”! Just an observation and good, common sense.

    As for Red Diamond, when it was first introduced as only a restaurant wine, people were begging for it to become publicly available without paying the typical atrocious restaurant markup. I often suggest Red Diamond to wine newbies who want to plunge into red wines as something very affordable and drinkable. However, I find it much too “sweet” and “syrupy” to please my palate. There are many other Merlots I would rather have with salmon. That being said, you can’t beat the price and it IS widely available. This wine should be served semi-chilled. Otherwise, it can taste very “heavy”. I’ve even been known to throw an ice cube into my glass to thin it out a little bit.

    True, I would like to see other Washington wines out there in the world market besides the lower-end CSM product line. But for a cheap, mass-produced wine, it is pretty good and I think it shows that Washington has a great wine future. Unfortunately, most of our “jewels” never cross state lines, which in the long run probably keeps them affordable for us! I’m glad the CSM products are more widely distributed than a wine like say, Pine & Post!

  2. wawineman says:

    Ab, you are da man! You’ve been quiet for too long and it’s time people find out how much you know about the wines of Washington. Yeah, good common sense…something readers here have in abundance, unlike other wine blogs.

    I agree this is a soft entry for noobs. Off-dry wines at single-digit prices are a good introduction to the world of wine. This one is varietally correct, (yep) widely distributed, and not diluted in taste, so (yep) I would much rather drink this than say a Bay Bridge or Golden Gate Vintners bug wine. Just my hunch, but this wine should be in a box.

    Oh yeah, I’m also glad CSM wines can be found as far away as Korea, compared to other big producers. I just don’t think I would pay $35 for a bottle when I can get far better quality soju and beer for a fraction of that price.

    It’s a double-edged sword but I tend to favor a preference to seeing more WA brands in other states. When I talk to “outside” bartenders, they base their low opinion of WA wines on what they see in the stores…which is low-end CSM, maybe a Columbia, and maybe an outlier like Ash Hollow, Sagelands or Waterbrook. I would have the same opinion if that’s all I was exposed to for WA wines. I should not have to go to some ‘specialty’ wine shop to get a simple L’Ecole No 41 or Columbia Crest. But, that is the sad reality. I still wait for the day when I walk into a supermarket in So. Cal and find at least ten different producers of Washington wine spread throughout the shelves. Someday, someone at the Wine Commission will get it.

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