Doug Long was done making wine. After moving to Gig Harbor, Wash. in an attempt to retire after three decades of grape growing and winemaking with critical acclaim (e.g. Wine Spectator “Winery of the Decade” in 2000 and a 99-point 1997 vintage for winery David Arthur), Long was calling it a day (or decade). After getting bored with retirement, Long ventured east into the Red Mountain AVA, purchasing a vineyard site and planting vines like the good old days in 2004. “Intensity” is the linchpin of the 30-acre vineyard, planted on the southwest facing hillside slope to get long, sun-soaked days and with grape production limited to four pounds per plant, allowing for intense concentration. “No one would ever disagree that to make the best wine is to use the best quality of grapes,” says Long, in explanation of his reduced and focused crop selection.

With only three years of growth, Long’s Obelisco Estate released the first vintage in 2007 as a collaborative winemaking effort of Long and father-daughter team, Pete Hedges and Sarah Goedhart. The 2010 Estate Merlot is an archetype of the vineyard philosophy—dense and wholehearted Red Mountain fruit to produce the expressive and robust Merlot Washington has claimed its original fame from. The nose brags with aromas of vanilla and red currant, brambly fruit of marionberry and raspberry, along with dusty espresso bean and caramel. The palate is vibrant with red fruit and racy acidity, followed by silt-laced tannins upfront and center.

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