Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Merlot Madness Makes Me Merry

Z-Wineman has gone mad, but one of these Merlot wines is more like a Zinfandel wine than a number of Zinfandel wines I've tried, but I'll get to that.

Since a Merlot madness has overcome me, let me say that as a Newbie explorer in the wine world, I'm going to briefly give my impressions of a number of Merlot wines that is consistent with my youthful palate, a palate which simply wants a good tasting wine at a reasonable price; I think some of these wines I've reviewed will surprise you. As you know, if you follow this blog, I'm big on Zinfandel wine, big on Shiraz-Syrah, both are often  bold and spicy. Well, Merlot is known to be mellow, smooth, and fruity, light on tannin, none of which I'm opposed to, but I like a Longggggggggg finish sprinkled with Black, White, or Cayenne pepper, or a hint of ginger A assortment of acceptable flavors includes, but is not confined to chocolate, tobacco, or espresso, these are all okay, and with a tightly wound matrix of lush blackberry, mostly black current and or plum fruit, without any overwhelming floral notes, leather, horse-breath, or other intrusive notes that overshadow this matrix.
So what?
Well, what is your criterion for a good Merlot wine?
How do you buy your wine?
Do you just look at the price, the brand, vintage, or the varietal ? Do you just pick a wine by the label art (You might be surprised just how much a role the label plays in marketing wine)? There is no right or wrong answer to this.
For me, I'm looking for flavor, for the pleasure of the wine itself, and if I can keep the cost as low as possible, all the merrier.
Merlot is one of the main Bordeaux grapes, and is often blended with other Bordeaux grapes like Cabernet Sauvignon or Cabernet Franc. Click on the Merlot for MUCH more information.

In another post I mentioned the NorthStar Columbia Valley 2006 Merlot this way: "Yes, I've gone "Sideways" and tried the very luscious NorthStar Columbia Valley 2006 Merlot, $23.30, 92 points, bought at Hannafords); a great and VERY drinkable wine that goes well with friends, fun, and food."
I'll just let that stand as is, but I never did get around to reviewing Frog's Leap 2007 Merlot, so I'll begin there.

Frog's Leap 2007 Merlot, $26.49-$29.99, 91 points is what a Rutherford appellation Merlot (To me) should taste like: fruity aromas sliding into a velvet feel, a balance of earthiness and plum-cherry, having a medium body that is a generous wine in its long finish and consistent quality; this Merlot is quite adaptable to many a cuisine.

Kelley Creek Alexander Valley 2007 Merlot, $10.99-$19.99, 90 points,  is an amazing wine, it possesses a beautiful aroma with hints of mocha.
Wow, I almost thought I was drinking a Zinfandel wine; could it be that the Kelley Creek's proximity to the Dry Creek Valley had some influence on this Merlot? Well it wasn't the medium body, it wasn't  the unusual cheek-puckering  tannins, and it sure wasn't the label describing this Merlot as having "subtle spice", but it was the white  pepper pasted licorice wrapped around a core of lush fruit that in a blind taste-test could have thrown me, and manifested this as a "Zinfandel wine".
With all of that,  The Kelley Creek 2007 Merlot is still a gentle-giant of a wine, singularly firm, with a sleek long finish.
Cheers to Scott! Thanks for the GREAT WINE!

Woodbridge 2008 Merlot by Robert Mondavi, $5.10, 74 points,was very different than the 2007 I tried, but the 2008 is my focus here.  The label describes this Woodbridge 2008 Merlot as "smooth and velvety. . ." To me, this Merlot is anything but smooth and velvety. Frankly I found it so bitter I lost the fruit-for-the-forest of green-grape feel and flavor. At this low price, I still cannot recommend this wine.

Duck Pond Washington State's Columbia Valley 2004 Merlot, $12.00, 86 points, has a sweet aroma, is not complex, but has a good balance of fruit, and is palate and finish pleasant.

Canoe Ridge Estate 2006 Merlot, $8.50, 87 points,  has a similar Columbia Valley flavor as the Duck Pond  or even the Columbia Crest Merlot, though they all have their own individual character, there seems to be that intangible familiarity which binds them together. The Canoe Ridge is tart and spicy. Having a timid aroma, and an appearance of dark rose pedal.

Chateau Ste Michelle Canoe Ridge Estate Horse Heaven Hills 2006 Merlot, 17.80, 87 points, is an interesting and complex wine and with a surprising finish that is just that, surprising! A curious wine which I bought two or three bottles, but I found surprising in its nondescript uninspiring character, which in the near future I will taste again and will modify my critique. I   will not recommend this wine at this time.

Benziger Sonoma County 2006 Merlot, $13.99  85 points, was bottled in July 2009. It struck me as a so-so Red table wine. You might pair it with grilled beef, veal, lamb, or just your favorite light luncheon meats, but for $13.99 I'd rather go elsewhere!

Markham Vineyards Napa Valley 2006 Merlot, $16.99, 88 points, has a beautiful Burgundy color, and aromas of coffee and cigar-box. This is a well structured wine with a bit of a vegetive note wrapped in a core of plum and slightly less than ripe currant. This is a nice Merlot, a little one-dimensional and lacking a memorable finish.
Not a great buy at $16.99.

Freemark Abbey Napa Valley 2006 Merlot, $18,00, 88 points, has a gentle and distinctive aroma. It is rich enough, yet has a light palate presence, nothing that stands out , but its overall easy-going nature finishes with a "nice" nondescript fruit flavor. I enjoyed this with dark chocolate, a distinction that I have found typical of Merlot.
Another not so great a deal, considering the Rodney Strong 2007 Merlot.

Rodney Strong Sonoma County 2007 Merlot, $7.64, 89 points, is intensely fragrant (Wafts right out of the glass). The color is dark enough to go with its luscious nature, tightly rich with floral hints, just a bit too floral for me, but more of a wine than many-a-Cabernet I've tried. Some fussy people I know just loved this Merlot. Described on the label as having a "silky finish", and I found this to be absolutely true, and at $7.64, an incredible buy (Like taking candy from a baby) .

St. Supery Napa Valley 2004 Merlot, $ 14.99, 90 points is one of those wines which just had to be pawned-off to make room for the newer vintages, but at the bargain price of $14.99, I discovered a wine at its zenith: mellow Merlot true to its nature, palate rich, with gentle aromas and a long spicy finish; who could ask for anything more?

Well the Merlot Madness has finally left me.
I hope that if it hits you, you'll benefit by my reviews.


Copyright 2011 Dennis Tsiorbas. All rights reserved, Template provided by Blogger

1 comment:

  1. In retrospect, I thought that I might check some reviews on the Kelly Creek Merlot, since I gave it such a great review, and this is what I found:
    Some, like me, loved it, others hated it; it is as simple as that.
    Find someone whose palate agrees with yours, and sharing becomes much easier.