Merlot is one of the best wines in the world. Though it has taken hits over the past decade due to movie misunderstandings and poorly produced bulk commercial representations, it is and always has been a premiere wine. October is #MerlotMe month, designed to celebrate the many wonders and joys of this marvelous grape. As our #WinePW group dives into the world of Merlot I have three delicious wines to share with you in honor of this distinguished grape.
Where did it all go wrong? It is a common understanding among wine lovers that the movie Sideways was the undoing of Merlot. In fact, that is not entirely true. Those who watch the movie closely realize two things about Merlot: 1) Miles does not like Merlot because it was his ex-wife’s favorite wine; 2) the coveted wine enjoyed at the end of the movie was in fact Merlot. Merlot actually began losings its favor before the movie due to over-produced, poorly made, cheap bulk Merlot that flooded the market. The consumer began to notice the quality of the wine plummeting at the same time the “Sideways Effect” came into play. Those two events collided leading to the death of Merlot and the rise of Pinot Noir.
Today Merlot has life again. In fact, I would even say it has resumed its place among the best wines of the world. The days of bad, bulk Merlot have largely passed while wineries all over the world are embracing this first class wine. Merlot is grown in every major wine region on the globe. It is loved for its red fruits, velvet mouth-feel, and gentle tannins. Merlot is a chameleon grape. It has great versatility based on its growing conditions. When grown in the cooler climates of France, Italy, and Chile Merlot offers more earthy characteristics and minerality; when grown in warmer climates of California, Australia, and Argentina Merlot is much more fruit-forward. Without Merlot there would be no Bordeaux or Super-Tuscans. In fact, Merlot is the main component to one of the most expensive wines in the world: Chateau Petrus, which is a right bank Bordeaux wine crafted predominately of Merlot.
The days of “no-go Merlot” are over. Today, there are literally dozens of world class Merlots on the market from all price ranges. So do not delay, head to your local wine retailer or online and pick up some Merlot, then join the #MerlotMe celebration all month long!
For our #MerlotMe celebration I received three media samples. Here are the wines:
2013 L’Ecole No. 41 Estate Merlot, Walla Walla Valley, USA: This wine was crafted of 80% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 10% Cabernet Franc from estate grown grapes from Seven Hills and Ferguson vineyards; bright ruby with violet highlights; beautiful aromatics of bright cherries, black berries, raspberries and pomegranate, delicately sweet spice notes are met with milk chocolate, candied walnuts and a touch of vanilla; crushed velvet mouth-feel that is elegant and refined; well-integrated tannins and balanced acidity that wrap the palate and create a pleasingly long finish; aged in 100% small 40% new French oak barrels; 14.5% ABV; SRP $37; click here to find near you
2013 Long Shadows Pedestal Merlot, Columbia Valley, USA: This wine was crafted of 75% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Petit Verdot, 3% Malbec, and 3% Cabernet Franc; beautiful deep violet in the glass; rich aromas of a blackberry, black plum, black cherry compote along with spice notes and chocolate and tobacco fill the glass; juicy on the palate with a silky mouth feel, pronounced spice notes wrap the palate, dusty tannins and acidity make the mouth-pucker, long finish; good now, amazing in a few years; aged for 22 months in 85% new French oak barrels; 15.2% ABV; SRP $55; click here to find near you
2013 Duckhorn Vineyards Merlot, Napa Valley, USA: This wine was crafted of 88% Merlot, 7% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 5% Cabernet Franc; bright ruby; this iconic Merlot delivered aromas of cherry, black raspberries and plums, along with sweet notes of spice wrapped around an earthy cedar, and a lasting touch of vanilla; it wraps the palate in notes of spice with an edginess that is modern, yet a silkiness that is built to last; always a good merlot selection; the 2013 is no exception; well-structured with dusty tannins and round acidity leaving a long finish; aged for 15 month in 25% new, 75% neutral 60 gallon French oak barrels; 14.5% ABV; SRP $49; click here to find near you
The temperature has finally fallen into the 80’s so I sought to pair these three wines with a fall meal. I have been cooking out of the October edition of Cooking Light Magazine like crazy. It contains so many great recipes that are delicious, healthy, and fairly quick. I chose meatballs. I was going to pair the meatballs with mashed potatoes but then I saw A Pug In The Kitchen’s recipe for Cauliflower Mash. Could I get away with it with my family? Of course! Everything Suzanne makes is amazing and usually way above my cooking skills. This is a great recipe for mashed cauliflower that I highly recommend if you want all the comfort of mashed potatoes without all the starch. Throw in some roasted Brussels sprouts and we have ourselves a delicious meal! One of the many great things about Merlot is that it is very food friendly; hard to miss on a Merlot food pairing.
Now take a look at what my fellow #MerlotMe #WinePW friends have cooked up to pair with their Merlots:
Camilla from Culinary Adventures with Camilla shares “Merlot Shows Its Versatility and Goes +1 With Cheese, Meat, and Chocolate”
Amy from Cooking with Amy shares “Mushroom Parmigiano Pasta Recipe”
David from Cooking Chat shares “Garlic Thyme Tuna Paired with a Merlot”
Wendy from A Day in the Life on the Farm shares “#MerlotMe Trifecta for #WinePW”
Jennifer from Vino Travels – An Italian Wine Blog shares “#MerlotMe with Sausage Baked Ziti”
Sarah from Curious Cuisiniere shares “Exploring Merlot Wine Pairing with Bolognese Sauce”
Lori from Dracaena Wines shares “Hello, Can you #MerlotMe?”
Jill from L’Occasion shares “Evenings with Merlot”
Lauren from The Swirling Dervish shares “Mercy Monday and Merlot”
Gwen from Wine Predator shares “#MerlotMe with savory simple fall foods”
Jade from Tasting Pour shares “Chipotle Chicken Stew and Merlot”
Cindy from Grape Experiences shares “Wine and Dine: Merlot with Eggplant and Polenta Parmigiana”
Jeff from FoodWineClick! shares “A Love Affair for Merlot and the Grill”
Join us this morning at 10CST on Twitter using #WinePW to share your favorite Merlots as well as great food pairings.
My Song Selection: Merlot is an easy wine to enjoy; a read crowd pleaser! It is a timeless wine that should never go out of style.
What is your favorite Merlot? How will you be celebrating #MerlotMe month? Share your thoughts and tag me in your photos on Instagram, FB and Twitter!
Get your own bottle of Merlot and let me know what song you pair with it. Cheers!