By: Gregory Dal Piaz
If you want to know how good a value any specific category of wine offers it’s always good to start at the bottom, or close to it. Take Merlot for example. It’s been in the dumps ever since Sideways came out, and yet if you ask me and other folks who follow these things you j
know that we've been trying to get you to check out Merlot for a few years now.
When a grape goes through a slump many growers will switch to something more profitable, particularly if their fruit wasn't that good to begin with. Growers who produce great fruit often just can’t bring themselve to graft it over to something that make them more money but for an inferior product. So they keep growing the grapes, in this case Merlot, deal with what the market offers then, and hope for better times to come. Well folks, better times are here.
You can tell that by sampling some of these less expensive Merlots. They offer great value and best of all they often taste and feel like Merlot. Not fancy Merlot of course, but for most part they show a lovely blend of herbs and fruit on the nose, and while some wines seem to have no tannins, they are mostly soft without being flacid; some are quite bright and very attractively fresh. In fact I would say that’s main selling point for Merlot. Assuming you like the flavor profile, the texture of these inexpensive Merlots gives them a leg up on many other varieties at this price point.
They’ve also turned the wine market a little upside down. While not complex or explosively rich many of these wines show more varietal typicity than wines that are multiples the price. It’s a win-win situation but of course as happens with these things, over the coming years more people will remember to try Merlot once in awhile and will in turn be convinced by their quality. Slowly the price for great fruit will once again rise, vineyards will be re-grafter to Merlot, and we will have moved on to the next great value. For today at least you owe it to yourself to check out the great value Merlot now offers. Light, fresh, fruity and savory they are so very attractive!
Big, spicy wood derived aromas greet the nose followed by rich blueberry and black cherry notes layered over mineral and tomato leaf accents. This also gains a bit of a licorice tone drapes over everything. Smooth and rich on entry, the midpalate gains attractive clarity as the acidity pops a touch freshening the black fruit which retain a lovely floral and herbal inner mouth perfume right through the moderately long, juicy finish. There’s plenty of fruit here yet this remains rather fresh and lively in the mouth with subtle oak spice and chocolate overtones on the blackberry finish which turns just a bit peppery on the finale. 88pts
Pungent with aromas of old wood, fresh berry fruit, cotton gauze, sage and soft spiciness all coming together on the attractive nose. A bit soft in the mouth, this has lovely zingy red cherry, currant and red plummy fruit on the palate. There are subtle spice notes and a hint of dry leather, but this is mostly about the fruit. the acidity makes itself known on the backend, as do the tannins which are a touch rustic and chewy and add some character to the palate. Medium bodied and just a little rustic, this is fun to drink and has a pretty long finish filled with subtly savory tart red berry and plum fruit. 86pts