Have you ever felt like you were misjudged or treated unfairly? For example, say someone told a group of people they did not like you, leading the group of people to assume there was something wrong with you, so without even knowing you they did not like you as well. That does not seem fair, does it? Or perhaps someone was spreading rumors based on misinformation about you causing people who knew you and liked you to change their minds about you. Again, not fair. Well my friends it happens and it happened in October 2004 to one of the most popular and beloved grapes in the world. It happened so thoroughly that it became a phenomena known as the “Sideways Effect” and the grape, oh you know its name…MERLOT!
In the movie Sideways, the character Miles claims he is “Not drinking any F*@*%*G Merlot!” Problem was no one bothered to pay attention to the fact that Miles did not like Merlot because it was his ex-wife’s favorite varietal. And that is where the fall of Merlot began. The fall was compounded by a grape that really had become too popular with California wine consumers and the quality of the wine being produced was falling well below where it should have been. Fast forward 11 years and Merlot’s reputation has still not fully recovered.
Is Merlot destined to be the Rodney Dangerfield of grapes? Several years ago Rick Bakas began a campaign to help Merlot regain its true place in the wine world; however, because it was such an uphill battle instead of proclaiming one day to celebrate the worn and tattered Merlot (International Merlot Day falls on November 7), Rick knew Merlot needed more love; so he started #MerlotMe for the entire month of October; the exact month 11 years ago Merlot fell from grace. This month’s Wine Pairing Weekend group, hosted by Jeff Burrows of Food Wine Click, is supporting the beloved Merlot by dedicating our October theme to #MerlotMe. Jeff was kind enough to seek out sponsors so each of us is featuring #MerlotMe participating wineries. Be sure to check out all these delicious Merlots by reading my fellow Wine Pairing Weekend blogger’s articles at the end of this article.
Please keep in mind my fellow wine lovers there would be no Bordeaux without Merlot. And Super Tuscans shine when Merlot is on the vine. So don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater, as they say, there are many outstanding Merlots on the market today so buy a bottle or twelve and celebrate #MerlotMe month all of October! As you read about the three delicious Merlots I have to share with you below, please take a moment to read these additional articles I have written on awesome Merlots: “Mystified by Cairdean Estate on #Winechat,” “Merryvale 2010 Merlot: Not Just History Repeating,” and “Cornerstone Cellars: Constantly Improving Perfection.”
Duckhorn Vineyards Napa Valley 2012 Merlot: This wine was crafted of 88% Merlot, 7% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2% Petit Verdot, 2% Cabernet Franc, and 1% Malbec. It poured a vibrant deep ruby and offered fruit notes of red cherries, plums and pomegranates, along with violets, baking spice highlighting cinnamon, cassis, and savory herbal notes, ending with a touch of vanilla. It was smooth with a velvety mouth-feel, well-structured with round acidity and integrated tannins. At only 3 years old this Merlot drank older than its age. It ended with a lingering dry finish. Aged in French oak barrels for 16 months: 25% new, 75% second vintage. 14.5% alcohol. SRP $54.00. Click here to purchase direct from Duckhorn Vineyards.
Tinhorn Creek Oldfield Series 2012 Merlot: This wine was crafted of 85% Merlot, 14% Cabernet Franc, and 1% Syrah. 14.9% alcohol. This beautiful garnet with purple highlights wine dazzled with aromas of fresh black berries, cherries and black raspberries, along with persistent spice notes, chocolate and leather cigar box. The aromas are mirrored on the palate along with cassis, and ending with a touch of vanilla. A full body wine with round acidity and ripe tannins that persist through the lingering, dry finish. Tinhorn Creek Merlot’s ripe tannins and powerful acidity beg to be paired with food. 14.8% alcohol. SRP $26.99. Click here to purchase direct from Tinhorn Creek.
Twomey Napa Valley 2011 Merlot: This wine was crafted from grapes from Soda Canyon Ranch Vineyard. It poured a deep ruby. Notes of black fruit such a black berries, black cherries and plums took the lead, closely followed by earthy notes of persistent spice notes, black pepper, tobacco, dark chocolate and a touch of burnt meat tips on the back of the palate. This full body wine was mouth-filling with round acidity, persistent tannins and a dry, lingering finish. 14.5% alcohol. SRP $58.00. Click here to purchase direct from Twomey.
Since it finally feels like fall in Dallas I wanted to pair these wines with a meal highlighting fall flavors. For our entrée I made Brown Sugar Balsamic Pork, a super easy dish that cooks 6 hours in the crockpot then is basted and broiled with a brown sugar balsamic glaze. I HIGHLY recommend you make this for your family. It was easy to make and overflowing with outstanding flavor! Along with the pork tenderloin I roasted acorn squash just till softened (30 mins at 400), peeled it once cooled then sautéed on the stove with minced garlic, shallots, fresh rosemary, orange zest and a touch of brown sugar. A wonderful side that paired great with the pork tenderloin for a delicious meal. Both of these dishes paired really well with all of the wines! The glaze on the pork was a perfect merlot pairing and the acorn squash was a savory delicious accompaniment. But wait there’s more! Last week The Food and Wine Hedonist published a recipe for Pears Poached in Merlot. I knew it was the perfect dessert for this delicious meal! I was right. This was a fun and wonderful dessert! My whole family loved the entire meal, especially the dessert! You must make these pears this fall!
This was a wonderful meal with three delicious Merlots, each one unique with its own flavor profile and mouth-feel. Merlot is a very versatile variety that be crafted into a variety of wines from blends to single varietals. The Merlot fun is not over yet, please continue to explore Merlot wine and food pairings with my fellow Wine Pairing Weekend bloggers:
- Martin at Enofylz with An Exploration Of Merlot’s Food Pairing Versatility With Ethnic Fare
- Lori at Dracaena Wines with #MerlotMe and #WinePW– A Perfect Pair[ing]
- Camilla at Culinary Adventures with Camilla with Fungi, Fun Guy, & Two Napa Valley Merlots
- Christy at Confessions of a Culinary Diva with Return to the Magic of Merlot
- Cindy at Grape Experiences with #MerlotMe with Duckhorn and J.Lohr paired with Duck Breasts Provençale
- Erin at Platings and Pairings with Gnocchi with Frizzled Prosciutto and Blue Cheese
- Sarah at Curious Cuisiniere with Beef Osso Buco and an Exploration of Merlot Wine
- Jennifer at VinoTravels with Merlot pairings with Polenta and Sausage
- David at Cooking Chat #MerlotMe Wine & Roasted Rosemary Pork Chops
- Jade at Tasting Pour with Lamb and Acorn Squash Autumn Skillet
- Wendy at A Day in the Life on the Farm with A Triple Food and Merlot Tasting
- Jeff at foodwineclick with #MerlotMe Confession with Duckhorn and Pork Chops
I hope you are inspired to celebrate Merlot during October’s #MerlotMe month with some of your own favorite Merlot and food pairings.
My Song Selection: Merlot is an easy grape to enjoy. It is versatile, palate friendly and full of flavor. It’s unfortunately it has struggled over the past decade because really I think most people enjoy it. Furthermore, it is a wine everyone seems to know and relate to, just like a timeless song that comes on the radio and everyone knows all the words; perfect for group sipping to a sing a long!
Get your own bottle of Merlot in celebration of #MerlotMe and let me know what song you pair with it. Cheers!