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Dale Williams

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WTN: Merlot night: Rouget, de Sales, Meerlust, etc plus 83 Dow

by Dale Williams » Sat Nov 11, 2006 4:30 pm

Last night was my turn to host our little international Dobbs Ferry tasting group. Theme was "we are drinking some f*&^ing Merlot", with the criteria being solely that it was at least 50% Merlot. I furnished some red wine friendly cheeses (Comte, Tomme de Savoie, Vacherin, & Quickes's Cheddar), a mild garlicy sausage, and some pork/mushroom pate.
Wines were mostly blind.

First up: Some earth on nose, ok blackberry and black plum fruit, a little short on the finish. Slightly lifted nose at first. I guess a lesser St Emilion, maybe a 1999? Nope, it's the 1998 Ch. de Carles (Fronsac). Seems pretty mature, but does improve a bit over evening. Seems more advanced than a bottle I had a year ago. B

Next up was my wine, the 1982 Ch. de Sales (Pomerol). I didn't guess. :)
I had a backup bottle of Pomerol, as 24 is certainly pushing it for de Sales, but this was a pleasant surprise and the '90 Bourgneuf wasn't needed. Good color with only slight bricking, round red plum fruit accented with leather, forest floor, and tea aromas. Holds up well for a couple of hours, only last taste is really fading; I had actually expected it to fall apart it within 30 minutes in decanter even if it was tasty. Nowhere near the size and power you'd get from a higher level '82 Pomerol, but a nice fully mature Right Banker. Group WOTN. B+/A-

Next wine was a little puzzling. Ripe red fruit and vanilla-y oak make me lean towards New World, but a pleasant earthiness seems more Bordeauxish. I'm confused and reluctant to make a guess, but eventually say maybe a modern Right Bank satellite like a Lalande de Pomerol. Nope, it's a country I never considered, the 1997 Meerlust Merlot (Stellenbosch). B

Ok, #4. At first I think I get a little brett on the nose, but that blows off leaving a nose primarily of oak. Lots of chocolately oak over very round red plum fruit. Big but round tannins, the oak gradually subsiding to let some of the fruit come through. Reminds me a little of Montiano though less plush, I ask if it's the Falesco Merlot , when told no I guess Napa. It's the 2002 Charles Creek "Miradero" Merlot (about 50/50 Napa/Sonoma, all Merlot). A little low-acid for my tastes, I think others liked a bit more. B/B-

Alex was late arriving, his wine wasn't wrapped, so I guessed it was the 1998 Ch. Rouget (Pomerol) without even tasting. :)
Lovely structured midweight, dark berry fruit a little coffee edge. Gets better as evening progresses, tannins are present but quite fine. Very nice wine, I only wished I had some red meat with it (but cheese and sausage were ok). B+/A-

For a finisher, a half of 1983 Dow Vintage Port. Ripe and raisiny, with a bit of allspice and cinnamon. Good texture, not cloyingly sweet, ripe tannins. Our German member had been talking of stollen earlier in evening, in some ways this was stollen in a glass. Betsy arrived late to join us for a taste- 2 ounces each is perfect for me and Port. I quite like the Dow- is this my last one? Damn. A-

Fun night. Nice to show folks there is Merlot beyond the basic "give me a glass of Merlot."

Grade disclaimer: I'm a very easy grader, basically A is an excellent wine, B a good wine, C mediocre. Anything below C means I wouldn't drink at a party where it was only choice. Furthermore, I offer no promises of objectivity, accuracy, and certainly not of consistency.
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Re: WTN: Merlot night: Rouget, de Sales, Meerlust, etc plus 83 Dow

by James Roscoe » Sat Nov 11, 2006 6:20 pm

Dale,
I went to a store tasting yesterday where I tasted four California merlots (the theme was California Dreamin'). All of them were average at best (They had a great SB from Sobon Vinyard in Armador Co.) It would have been better if there had been a Pomerol to show the people what merlot is capable of producing. I wish I had been in your group.
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Carl Eppig

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Re: WTN: Merlot night: Rouget, de Sales, Meerlust, etc plus 83 Dow

by Carl Eppig » Sat Nov 11, 2006 7:45 pm

De Sales is a consistant producer and an excellent value year in and out.
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Dale Williams

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Re: WTN: Merlot night: Rouget, de Sales, Meerlust, etc plus 83 Dow

by Dale Williams » Sun Nov 12, 2006 8:13 pm

James, if you're ever in NY...

Carl, I like de Sales in ripe vintages, but have trouble liking in some "lesser" vintages. I don't think of myself as a vintage chaser, but de Sales is one of those wines I didn't like much in '96, '97, '02, etc.
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Re: WTN: Merlot night: Rouget, de Sales, Meerlust, etc plus

by Otto » Sun Nov 12, 2006 8:51 pm

Dale Williams wrote:I like de Sales in ripe vintages...


What's the 2003 like? We just got that here, and I've also liked Sales in the past, but am very scared of 2003s. Good and unspoofy enough that I should buy one bottle to taste?

-O-
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Re: WTN: Merlot night: Rouget, de Sales, Meerlust, etc plus

by Dale Williams » Mon Nov 13, 2006 11:04 am

Otto,
no clue. The '03 Pomerols seem to have a shaky rep as a whole. For my tastes, many of my dependable producers (Medoc or Libournais) aren't up my alley in 2003. I think it's a vintage to taste each wine before buying more than one bottle (that's ideal of course every year, but one is fairly safe buying producers you know and like in most good vintages).
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Re: WTN: Merlot night: Rouget, de Sales, Meerlust, etc plus

by Carl Eppig » Mon Nov 13, 2006 11:47 am

I have some '98 de Sales that I was hanging onto until next year. Have I erred griviously?
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Re: WTN: Merlot night: Rouget, de Sales, Meerlust, etc plus

by Dale Williams » Mon Nov 13, 2006 12:01 pm

Carl, not in my opinion. I think you have something to look forward to. Ch. de Sales is usually very good and a very good value in good ripe vintages, a category '98 is a definite member of (on Right Bank). The '90 de Sales was very good last year, my guess is the '98 would be fine from now till 2012 or later. I think I have one bottle myself, though Cellartracker isn't showing- time for the dreaded physical inventory!
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Re: WTN: Merlot night: Rouget, de Sales, Meerlust, etc plus

by Otto » Mon Nov 13, 2006 4:38 pm

Carl Eppig (Middleton, NH wrote:I have some '98 de Sales that I was hanging onto until next year. Have I erred griviously?


We had the '98 a year back. I thought it was pretty enjoyable even then, but I'm sure it will be better in a year! ;)

-O-
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