Thursday, March 21, 2024

Varietal of the Month: Merlot


Merlot practically needs no introduction; it’s one of the Nobel grapes, and one of the most planted grapes in the world. Perhaps you heard of Merlot in a movie that made the grape fall out of fashion? But that was decades ago and Merlot is back front and center and in the swing of things again. Although in truth Merlot never left the scene, it’s just been waiting for it’s moment to shine again and that moment is now.


Alexander Valley Vineyards 2020 Merlot, Alexander Valley

The Alexander Valley Vineyards 2020 Merlot is rich, smooth and full flavored. On the nose it has notes of plum, black cherry, vanilla, fig newton, and a touch of graphite. On the palate it sings with juicy cherry, chocolate, cedar and a light note of sage. Soft and plush, with great texture, it has fine balanced tannins that stipple across the palate and through to the finish. Pair with a Sideways watch party.

AVB 14.0%


Amphora 2019 Merlot, Dry Creek Valley

The Amphora 2019 Merlot from Dry Creek Valley is garnet in color with a pale rose edge. On the nose an earthy quality comes through with notes of violets, blueberry, cedar and leather. As it opens red raspberry and fig come into play. On the palate it’s deep and full flavored with plum, cassis, and chocolate. Smooth with well integrated tannins that linger on the spicy finish. Pair with spicy chicken-cheese enchiladas .

ABV 13.6%


Francis Ford Coppola 2020 Merlot, Alexander Valley

The Francis Ford Coppola 2020 Merlot from Alexander Valley, composed of 82.4% Merlot, 15.9% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 1.5% Cab Franc; has an approachable complexity that makes it an easy choice for sharing among friends and family with diverse palates. On the nose, scents of chocolate, raspberry, vanilla, blueberry, dusty violets and a pleasant whiff of s’mores roasting over a campfire. On the palate it’s rich and plush with fine sandy tannins and flavors of chocolate covered raspberry, rhubarb, and note of black olive. Pair with a poetic and romantic musical such as One From the Heart by Francis Ford Coppola. ;-)

ABV 15.0%


Ehert 2019 Merlot, Knights Valley

Imagine a circus of the senses and that’s what you’ll find in a glass of the Ehret 2019 Merlot, composed of 85% Merlot and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon. It’s exciting and vibrant on the nose with scents of bright red cherry, raspberry, vanilla and spun sugar aka cotton candy. On the palate it’s a smooth operator with notes of caramel, plum, huckleberry, cocoa and a note of bay leaf and black olive. Great texture with soft balanced tannins and a spicy finish make this a natural to pair with a variety of dishes from hearty lasagna to grilled salmon.

ABV 15.5%


Ektimo 2020 Merlot, Russian River Valley

The Ektimo 2020 Merlot from Russian River Valley is like a poem written by the vineyard with earthy prose and poise you can taste. On the nose it has a gentle herbal note of bay leaf along with scents of dried strawberry, black cherry, and toffee. On the palate, it’s soft and plush with flavors of chocolate cherry, blackberry, tobacco and toasty vanilla. Long finish with supple tannins and a spicy tangy finish. Pair with a rib eye steak and chimichurri sauce.

ABV 14.5%


Longboard 2021 Merlot, Dakine Vineyard, Russian River Valley

The Longboard 2021 Merlot, Dakine Vineyard, Russian River Valley is a field blend of Merlot and small amount of Malbec (11%) that is co-fermented. It smells like a warm chocolate éclair (so delicious) with rich scents of plum, caramel and red raspberry too. On the palate it’s plush and curvaceous with deep flavors of chocolate, thyme, and cafe au lait. Fine sandy tannins and great overall structure give it staying power to the last drop. It would be fun to buy a half dozen bottles now and open at two-year intervals to see where it will go. It’s sure to be a special destination. Pair with lamb kabobs and pomegranate sauce.

ABV 14.5%


Robert Young 2019 Merlot, Alexander Valley

This meticulously made Robert Young 2019 Merlot from Alexander Valley is a pleasure from beginning to end. On the nose, a heady array of scents rises up from the glass with aromas of blackberry pie, raspberry, black olive, tobacco and chocolate. On the palate it’s luxurious and rich with soft tannins that ripple with flavors of cherry, Santa Rosa plum, dark cocoa, and dried strawberry. Pair with a simple charcuterie board or chili cheeseburgers.

ABV 14.1%


Wine Road Podcast: Lucas Meeker, Co-Owner and Winemaker at The Meeker Vineyard




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