Bunless Lamb Burgers + Northstar 2014 Merlot #MerlotMe #Sponsored

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Northstar Winery, one of the #MerlotMe event sponsors. Complimentary wine was provided for this post and this page may contain affiliate links.
However, all opinions expressed here are my own.
October has arrived. That means the air has a little bit of a chill in the morning; I actually dug jeans and a sweater out of my closet yesterday. It means squash and apples are in the markets in full force. It means I have roasts and soups on the brain. And, mostly importantly for this post, it heralds the official start of #MerlotMe month. Yes, that's right: an entire month filled with Merlot-food pairings made all the more fun with the samples of Merlot from all around that keep appearing on my doorstep!

Besides getting to play with food and wine, I love that every year I receive wines from winemakers that I have never tried before. This is the perfect case in point. I received a bottle of the 2014 Merlot from Northstar Winery* this time around.

In My Glass
I am a little surprised to realize that I don't pour wines from Washington very often. It's strange because those that I have found the opportunity to try have been lovely. And this one is no exception.

Because Northstar Winery was new to me, I did some reading and watched some of the video clips on their website. Winemaker David "Merf" Merfeld talks about how he sources from vineyards all over the state because each vineyard has its own personalities and brings something different to the table. And he thinks that the Washington climate allows Merlot to thrive. He also details what he strives to achieve. He explains, "I’m looking for layers of flavors. Fruit upfront maybe spices... and chocolate. ...Full with a long finish. I like balance."

With a blend of 76% Merlot and 24% Cabernet Sauvignon, this 2014 Merlot from Columbia Valley was smooth and silky. "It's a little too smooth," said Jake. He just meant that he was more inclined to drink it more quickly rather than sip and savor. There definitely was that!
I enjoyed the aromas of nutmeg and vanilla with more savory notes on the tongue of juniper and mint. It was silky and supple. This wine retails at $41.
On the Plate
The warm spices and woody evergreen made me think of pairing it with lamb. But, on a busy weeknight, I didn't have time to do a roasted leg of lamb. So, I looked to the ground lamb I had in the fridge and decided to whip up some quick burger patties instead. Jake and I are cutting back on breads and carbs, so our burgers were bunless; the boys got brioche buns with theirs.

Ingredients Burgers makes 4 servings 1 lb minced lamb 2 T fresh cilantro 1 T fresh parsley 1 clove garlic, peeled and minced 1 t fresh lemon zest 1/2 t ground cumin 1/2 t ground cinnamon pinch of cayenne pepper pinch of ground cardamom
Salad Topping 1/4 C chopped organic tomatoes 1/4 C crumbled feta cheese 1/4 C pitted kalamata olives, chopped 1 T fresh parsley, chopped 1 t fresh mint, chopped freshly ground salt splash of olive oil Procedure Burger
Add all of the ingredients to a large mixing bowl. Mix until well-combined. Form the meat into 4 equal size patties. Place on a parchment-lined plate and set aside until ready to cook. Cook, as desired, on a grill or on the stove with grill pan.

Salad Topping
Blend everything together in a small mixing bowl.

To Assemble
Place cooked patties on a plate. Spoon one-quarter of the topping over the burger. Serve immediately with a green salad on the side.

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*Disclosure: I received compensation in the form of wine samples for recipe development and generating social media traction. My opinions do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the organizer and sponsors of this event. ##MerlotMe #Washington #Merlot #WinePairing ##Sponsored
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