is, of course, hyperbolic, but as of late, I've been enjoying Merlot more than at any other time; all the supple textures, exotic flavors, smooth lingering finishes, usually well priced, and pair-able with cuisine as varied as Italian, Mexican, and traditional American, have finally awakened something in me.
Merlot, as a varietal, has finally captivated me, at least for today (Gemini's dilemma). I'm not saying I haven't liked Merlot, but in retrospect, aside from a few peak Merlot experiences (of which these three quickly come to mind: Château La Dominique Saint Emilion 2009 Bordeaux, Vérité La Muse 2002 Red Wine, and Petrolo
Galatrona 2005 Merlot, I haven't been especially fond of Merlot.
There's no telling whether my Merlot musing will be rewarded with more memorable wine experiences or not, but either way, in vino veritas.
Robert Mondavi Napa Valley 2012 Merlot, $19.99-$23.99, 88 points, poured a deep ruby with maroon flashes and trending orange/red at the broad clear wine ring and dense legged glass bowl.
Aromas of black fruits and a touch of mulling spice were robust.
Medium-plus bodied with good acidity and an underlayment of tannin carried good flavors of blueberry, mulberry, and pomegranate fruit with hints of licorice and cardamom.
Finished fair on the trailing palate, a hint of spice, and a warm 15% alcohol.
Varietals were 78% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Cabernet Franc, 2% Syrah, 1% Malbec, and 1% Petit Verdot.
Sterling Napa Valley 2012 Merlot, $16.95-$22.99, 86 points,
poured an opaque maroon trending cranberry red at the clear wine ring with thick draping on the glass bowl.
Aromas of black cherry, pomegranate, and earth were quite good.
Medium-plus bodied with good acidity and stridently youthful tannins, which carried deep into the finish.
Flavors of blueberries, mulberries, hints of chocolate and eucalyptus were okay.
Finished fair on the trailing palate, licorice, gentle spice notes, and a well integrated 14.5% alcohol.
William Hill Estates Napa Valley 2013 Merlot, $12.99-$15.99, 85 points, poured a bright ruby with maroon flashes, a slight orange transition at the broad clear wine ring and leggy glass bowl.
Aromas of strawberry and blueberry were dominant.
Medium-bodied with good acidity and building tannins carried aroma mirrored flavors and finished on that trailing palate without complexity and a well integrated 13.9% alcohol.
Plumpjack Napa Valley 2007 Merlot, $39.99-$59.99, 91 points, poured a dark ruby trending garnet then orange at the clear wine ring and thickly draped glass bowl.
Smells of cinnamon-plum and black cherry were outstanding.
Medium-plus bodied with good acidity, appropriately supportive tannins, and rich flavors of plum, violets, licorice, earth, cedar, and subtle hints of dried sweet cooking herbs.
Finished long on the trailing palate, warm spice notes, a hint of mint, and an unbelievably well done 15.2% alcohol.
Post posts of noteworthy Merlots:
Two Vintners Walla Walla Valley Pepper bridge vineyard 2012 Merlot, (approx.$35) 92 points
Shafer Napa Valley 2013 Merlot, $47.59-$60.99, 93 points
NorthStar Columbia Valley 2006 Merlot (Revisited), $23.30-$34.99, 92+ points
Grgich Hills Estate Napa Valley 2011 Merlot, $36.54-$42.99, 93 points
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