Now on to the second of my "Taste My Vacation" wine tasting, you can see the lineup here and this second wine is from an emerging region, the Snake River Valley in Idaho, the 2005 Carmela Cabernet Merlot blend. I brought back a few bottles from the Carmela Winery, and tasted the 2004 Carmela Cabernet Sauvignon back in June. Now the Snake River Valley is interesting as the climate tends to be a little more arid than the Columbia Valley, and given the volcanic history of the region, the pumice and ash in the soil adds to the characteristics of the wines produced here.
This one is an interesting blend, modeled after some of the classic Bordeaux blends, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, and this one is split right down the middle with 50% of each grape in the blend. At first pour, this wine has a strong aroma of alcohol, but some time in the glass and it begins to open up a bit. The nose has a lot of carbon and smoke, along with some lovely dry herbs. The taste has some mild fruit at the outset, giving way to some herb flavors and concentrated spice leading to a very dry finish. In sharing our thoughts on this wine, one person in the group exclaimed "Hot Lava!" so that might give you some sense of this one!
Overall, I would rate this one a solid 7.5, and it paired especially well at our tasting with the 5-year old cheddar and the lovely pear mustard and soft cheese that a friend brought. It would also work well with some nicely grilled steak, or even a spicy chili!