The Frugal Wine Gal: Merlot Me Away


The quality of wines I have been finding lately has been amazing. Usually I will peruse the wine aisle at my local Market of Choice, Safeway, or even Sundance Wine Cellars and just see what catches my eye. This week I saw a single varietal wine from Eastern Washington that caught my attention. A 2011 Merlot? For under $20? I had to give it a shot, and I am so glad that I did.

Milbrandt Vineyards is a family owned and operated winery in Prosser, Washington. While I was a young kid I lived in Prosser, but had no idea that there were so many incredible wines coming out of the area. The vineyards were established in 1997, and the grapes were highly sought after right away. In 2007, they decided to start their own label with their own estate grown grapes. Located in an isolated area two hours east of Seattle, Milbrandt’s Vineyard produces some fantastic wines like Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Viognier. Colombia Valley is an exceptionally warm area and can grow some very big varietals. The merlot I found is proof that Colombia Valley is another great spot to pick up some complex, delicious wines.

The Merlot Grape

Merlot is a grape that is a little bit rare to find locally. They do grow some in Southern Oregon but a majority of the ones I’ve been finding are from California and Washington. It’s a grape that requires very warm temperatures. Some of the general characteristics of this grape are big bodied, full mouth feel, and really soft tannins. The Milbrandt Vineyards 2011 was a prime example of this. The color was absolutely beautiful. Very dark and rich, which is caused by lots of contact with the skins and pulp from the grapes during fermentation. This also allows time for the wine to develop it’s characteristic flavors and rich tannins.

Right on the nose I smelled ripe blackberries, French oak, and charcoal. It was almost a little smokey. Very complex! The flavor profile on this was amazing as well. Chocolate, coffee, and toasted nuts burst in my mouth. Combine all of this with a full mouth feel and a very smooth finish, I thoroughly loved this wine.


I paired this wine with, well, nothing. It drank great on it’s own. Whatever you decide to pair with it will have to be very rich and meaty. It would be great with a mushroom based dish like creamy pasta, or grilled meats.

I picked up this fantastic bottle for only $14.99, although price will vary depending on where you find it of course. It is a great value and I plan on stocking up – what a great find. Cheers!


Wine lover and student. I love finding great wines at fantastic prices that are affordable for anyone and everyone. Both Oregon and Washington have some amazing options and I look forward to sharing them with everyone. Cheers!

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