The Hedges CMS Red 2014 is sourced from vineyards in the Columbia Valley AVA of Washington, it is Hedges Family Estates iconic Red blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah, with the blend changing from year to rear. The blend also seems to change during the year, the Hedges website gives the 2014 blend as 40% C, 44% M, and 16% S and a quick check of the web showed a couple of other blends with different but more or less similar portions, but my bottle of CMS 2014 is 8% C, 89% M, and 3% Syrah which is another thing all together. I bet that at least half of the bottles of Merlot on the store shelves have less Merlot than this Red blend (75% of one grape is needed to be a single varietal). The usual blend looks to be about the interplay between Cab and Merlot (very Bordeaux) and Syrah (not very Bordeaux). I am not complaining about the difference in the grape proportions, because obviously Hedges came across some excellent Merlot and just couldn’t pass it up. They aren’t hiding anything, the percentages are printed right on the back label and this label seems to be slightly different, some words are placed in different positions and the 2014 is printed in red not the usual black/dark grey. So check your bottle for the blend since my tasting notes will probably be very different from the wines with more or less equal parts C and M. I am not positive if the production techniques are exactly the same as the other blends, but typically 50% of the wine is fermented in barrel and the rest in stainless steel vats, then the wine is aged for 9 or 10 months in 60% French oak and 40% American oak. The alcohol content is 13.5%.
The color is a dark, barely see-thru raspberry jam red with black highlights and an almost clear rim. The nose is dark and brooding, it smells like a wine that has been in oak longer than 9 or 10 months, there are scents of blackberry, baking spices, licorice, brewing black coffee, cigarette smoke, and ripe plum, sounds like a roadside diner in the 70s. This Merlot, I mean CMS blend, is an interesting combination of smooth and rounded with a more rough and ready side. It tastes of extracted blackberry covered in chocolate (without the sugary sweetness), cigar tobacco, black pepper, and exotic spice. The mid-palate brings black cherry, with orange zest, a light touch of herbs. The tannins are in the mix, they don’t bite, but they are in mix holding things together, the acidity is solid, it’s a food wine, throw some steaks on the Weber grill. The finish is smoother than the body of the wine and does last awhile.
The Hedges CMS Red 2014 is a “drink it now” wine that feels like a cellar worthy wine. It is a large wine, it is bold, but not at all over-the-top, it is just very American (that is a good thing in my book). It has really solid oak flavors which are not always evident is sub-$15 wine, some producers do it way better than others. I am writing this post in the beginning of September and this wine has a real Autumn cool weather sort of feel, not the wine that you would pop the top at the beach, but one that is at home on a cool night while sitting around the fire pit. I don’t know how this CMS blend tastes with more than 8% Cab, but I like this Merlot enough to put the other blend on my to-do list.