Wine Review: Michaud 2015 Columbia Valley Merlot

Washington state Merlot is one of the hot up-and-coming trends in the wine world, especially among hipsters in the know. I recently was given a bottle of the Michaud 2015 Columbia Valley Merlot ($12).

The grapes were grown on the Wahluke Slope, a predominantly red Washington AVA that straddles the Columbia River. It’s an area specifically known for growing strong and bold wines. The state is one of the prominent producers of the varietal, and this wine would make a great every day drinker.

Packed with appealing (and crowd pleasing) cherry, cocoa powder, and plum flavors, this is a classic, easy drinking red wine. It’s just rich and soft enough on the finish to make the grade with experienced tasters while also preventing alienating newbies to the wine world.

The color is a slightly off-putting brick red (think of it being closer to the color of an aged Bordeaux versus a young Merlot) but the nose is quite alluring. There’s an unusual bite to the palate that would prevent me from calling this wine smooth. It’s still a lovely weekend sipper as long as you don’t overthink it.

This wine was tasted courtesy of Naked Wines, a fantastic little startup company that works like a crowd funding campaign for great wine. The company boasts that it can “get you better wines for less money, and still get the winemaker a great deal,” and there’s plenty of truth to that claim.

Consumers sign up as an “Angel” and invest $40 a month into their piggy bank (which they are free to spend however they choose). Angels get even greater discounts on all wine purchased and quite frankly, the prices are already a bargain. We’ve tried a dozen wines from this company and all were of a much higher quality than their price would suggest.

This piggy bank money is used by the company to invest in talented, independent winemakers who want to focus on making a solid product without all the hassles of big name marketing. The small winemakers get to make the exact wine they want without all the added costs, essentially eliminating the high dollar middleman and passing the savings (and the fruits of their labor) onto real wine fans.

The service is a wine club, but they’ll never send out wine you haven’t ordered (that means no Pinot if you prefer Champagne), and they include free delivery if you spend $100 or more, which is an easy task for any wine lover.

It’s important to note that none of us here at The Grape Geeks have actually signed up for this service (yet), but we have met some of the folks behind the business and they’re awesome wine geeks just like us.

The company sponsored a closing night dinner at the 2017 Wine Bloggers Conference in Santa Rosa and poured over two dozen different wines on offer (the success rate with my palate hovered in the 75% range, which is pretty exceptional). They’ve also generously sent us several bottles to sample and review, and my thoughts are published on our website.

If you’re interested in learning more about Naked Wines, mosey on over to their website at

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