Ever since that movie Sideways came out, people have been hating on Merlot. If only they knew that Miles’ favorite wine, the one he’s drinking at the In and Out Burger out of the styrofoam cup, was 50% Merlot (1961 Cheval Blanc to be exact), maybe they’d change their minds. Merlot is one of the world’s leading red wine grapes. It typically is one of the most planted (it’s the most planted in Bordeaux) and it can produce everything from pure plonk to the most regal, lavish and expensive wine(s) in the world (Petrus, Cheval Blanc, Orenellaia, and many more).
Merlot tends to ripen earlier than Cabernet Sauvignon, and that’s why you often see the grapes planted and blended together. In a cooler vintage where a producer runs the risk of their Cabernet getting hit by late harvest frosts, you’ll often see producers blend in more Merlot; in a warmer vintage, the reverse scenario is often the case. The grape tends to be a little bit softer and more opulent than it’s big brother, but other than that, the grapes share a lot of similarities. Don’t believe us? Stop by this Saturday, December 6th any time between 2 and 5 p.m. for a Merlot tasting that will make you a believer.
1. 2013 Honoro Vera Merlot (Jumilla, Spain): From the Juan Gil family of wines, this perennial extreme value Merlot is great again this year. “Bright purple in color, it offers up cassis and licorice aromas along with notes of mint and spice. Concentrated and aromatic in the mouth, with juicy acidity lifting the flavors of dark berries, mint and peppery spices, it finishes supple and gently sweet, with good cling and soft tannins.” 89 points Stephen Tanzer
2. 2012 Domaine Amido Merlot (Rhone Valley, France): Merlot from the Southern Rhone? You bet, and this wine comes from the same producer responsible for one of our best selling Cotes du Rhones of all time. With ripe plum, black cherry, and raspberry fruit complimented by white pepper and herbal notes, it’s a classic rendition of Merlot. Soft tannins and an overall juicy impression make this a perfect candidate for everyday drinking. 90 points Table Wine
3. 2010 Chateau Recougne Bordeaux Superieur (Bordeaux, Franc): In case you forgot, 2010 was a fantastic vintage in Bordeaux, and even “little wines” like this one performed very well. Chateau Recougne has a tremendous track record of quality and the wine has developed a reputation for being able to age gracefully for two decades or more. The 2010 is mainly Merlot with smaller amounts of Cab Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon, it “exhibits aromas and flavors of cedarwood, spice box, black currants and berries. This medium-bodied, well-made blend should drink well for 7-8 years. (Although last year I drank a 1952 that was still quite tasty.)” 88 points The Wine Advocate