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Peter May

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Re: Wine Focus for January: Can Merlot be saved?

by Peter May » Wed Jan 09, 2013 11:58 am

I doubt he'll be posting a tasting note here, but President Obama is focusing on Merlot this month.

President Barack Obama is sworn in for his second term on Monday, January 21, the Inaugural Luncheon will. for the first time in modern history, feature New York wines: Tierce 2010 Dry Riesling from the Finger Lakes and Bedell 2009 Merlot from Long Island.
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Rahsaan

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Re: Wine Focus for January: Can Merlot be saved?

by Rahsaan » Wed Jan 09, 2013 1:36 pm

John Treder wrote:I must confess, Tim, that my experience of European wines is much less than a bottle a year. Just too expensive for anything that I've found I liked. $35 here can buy you a really good wine. Yes, it's different in character from the Europeans..


I think character is the main issue. $35 can also buy you a really good European wine, although you may not like it.
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Ryan M

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Re: Wine Focus for January: Can Merlot be saved?

by Ryan M » Thu Jan 10, 2013 1:25 am

This Wine Focus is well-timed for me, because I only recently finally acknowledged that I do really like Merlot, provided that it is from Bordeaux (or the occasional Napa). I have held a sort of two-faced opinion about Merlot even from Bordeaux - I have had this bias against buying many basic Bordeaux AC wines that are Merlot based, and yet I have known for some time that I love Right Bank wines when they're not overdone. So, it's hardly an original discovery, but Bordeaux has forced me to acknowledge Merlot in spite of itself.

Anyway, here is the most recent in string of Merlot based Bordeaux that have gradually awoken my interest. It's also my first 2010, and if seems to have confirmed my expected preference over 2009.

Chateau Lafont Fourcat, Bordeaux 2010
Very good nose, heady but deep and refined, with dark fruits, roses, leather, tobacco leaf, and dense, rich earth, all with good tone and undertones of citrus. Similar on the palate, with blackberry, cassis, and red currant. The density of this wine is rather captivating, and yet it is perfectly balanced, with good acid tone, and is quite succulent. If this is the character of 2010, then it strikes me as a combination of 2000's density with 2005's freshness. Approachable now, but will certainly improve over the next 5 years or more. 2.5 Stars [1/5/13]
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Clint Hall

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Re: Wine Focus for January: Can Merlot be saved?

by Clint Hall » Thu Jan 10, 2013 2:12 am

I wonder if a big reason many Right Bankers do so much better than most New World Merlots is that the former are predominantly blends and the latter generally just about all Merlot. As a blending grape, Italian and other European winemakers are welcoming Merlot

I wouldn't give "Sideways" the lion's share of the blame for discrediting Merlot as it had already toppled from its pedestal by the time the script writer parodied the self-appointed anti-Merlot cognoscenti.
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Re: Wine Focus for January: Can Merlot be saved?

by Tim York » Thu Jan 10, 2013 8:30 am

Clint Hall wrote:I wonder if a big reason many Right Bankers do so much better than most New World Merlots is that the former are predominantly blends and the latter generally just about all Merlot. As a blending grape, Italian and other European winemakers are welcoming Merlot.


In general I agree that Merlot needs to be blended with other grapes to achieve a balanced wine (Cabernet Sauvignon too) but that Lamaione 95 about which I enthused was 100% Merlot.
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David M. Bueker

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Re: Wine Focus for January: Can Merlot be saved?

by David M. Bueker » Thu Jan 10, 2013 8:52 am

Clint Hall wrote:I wonder if a big reason many Right Bankers do so much better than most New World Merlots is that the former are predominantly blends and the latter generally just about all Merlot. As a blending grape, Italian and other European winemakers are welcoming Merlot

I wouldn't give "Sideways" the lion's share of the blame for discrediting Merlot as it had already toppled from its pedestal by the time the script writer parodied the self-appointed anti-Merlot cognoscenti.


The quality of Merlot determines Merlot's fate. Lots of non-descript wine was made in the 90s that ultimately was the downfall of the grape. Also remember that just because an American wine says Merlot on the label does not mean it is 100% Merlot. A large percentage are not.
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Re: Wine Focus for January: Can Merlot be saved?

by Jenise » Thu Jan 10, 2013 2:54 pm

Bob Parsons Alberta wrote:WTN: 2009 Gray Monk Odyssey Label Merlot, VGA Okanagan BC.

Proud to be Canadian and happy to talk about this merlot which showed up in a tasting downtown a couple of months ago.
Gray Monk is one of our better wineries and is well known for their whites and reds. The Pinot Gris is one of the much-acclaimed wines that is consistent every year.
The Merlot. Big aromatic nose..hint of oak, pepper, currant and blackberry. Entry is off-dry with some cocoa. Earthy for sure, good balance and acidity. Plenty of black fruits and pleasing all round. $28 Cdn.


It's been years since I paid my one visit to the Gray Monk winery, Bob, but the wine I bought while there? The Odyssey merlot. Very very earthy and European in style compared to the sweeter, more extracted American style I'm used to. Presuming nothing's change, your ardor is well placed here.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Re: Wine Focus for January: Can Merlot be saved?

by Jenise » Thu Jan 10, 2013 2:58 pm

David M. Bueker wrote:From last night...
1994 Ravenswood Pickberry - USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Mountain (1/5/2013)
Ruby red color with an alluring aroma of dark red fruit, cedar, spice and herbs. The palate is bright, fruity, and has fine length. The acidity keeps the wine fresh and inviting.


The Pickberry is only 50-60% merlot, though, isn't it, with all but 1 or 2% of the rest Cabernet?
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Re: Wine Focus for January: Can Merlot be saved?

by Jenise » Thu Jan 10, 2013 3:00 pm

Clint Hall wrote:I wonder if a big reason many Right Bankers do so much better than most New World Merlots is that the former are predominantly blends and the latter generally just about all Merlot. As a blending grape, Italian and other European winemakers are welcoming Merlot

I wouldn't give "Sideways" the lion's share of the blame for discrediting Merlot as it had already toppled from its pedestal by the time the script writer parodied the self-appointed anti-Merlot cognoscenti.


You and I are in Washington where this grape does especially well. Are there any Washington merlots you're a fan of? I've got Dunham's Artist Series merlot in my cellar--$75 a bottle and worth every penny. Hard for most to imagine, but most have never had a merlot with that kind of presence. Pedestal gets a lot of love especially right now since it make the Speck 100 this year, but you have to like the Rolland style to get that one. Mercer's 08 currently on shelves is pretty killer.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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David M. Bueker

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Re: Wine Focus for January: Can Merlot be saved?

by David M. Bueker » Thu Jan 10, 2013 6:27 pm

Jenise wrote:
David M. Bueker wrote:From last night...
1994 Ravenswood Pickberry - USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Mountain (1/5/2013)
Ruby red color with an alluring aroma of dark red fruit, cedar, spice and herbs. The palate is bright, fruity, and has fine length. The acidity keeps the wine fresh and inviting.


The Pickberry is only 50-60% merlot, though, isn't it, with all but 1 or 2% of the rest Cabernet?


This one was 63% merlot, 30% cab and 7% cab franc.
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Re: Wine Focus for January: Can Merlot be saved?

by Jenise » Thu Jan 10, 2013 8:31 pm

Hmmm! Didn't realize it would change that much from year to year. I thought it was a field blend so pretty much set in what went in, and the 06's I have are what I just mentioned. An old favorite of mine, though, dating back to our early wine years in Alaska.
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Dan Smothergill

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Re: Wine Focus for January: Can Merlot be saved?

by Dan Smothergill » Thu Jan 10, 2013 9:24 pm

2009 Knapp Finger Lakes Merlot. Alcohol level: 12%. This is one of our favorite wines


Thanks Carl, I'll have to give it a try.
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Re: Wine Focus for January: Can Merlot be saved?

by David M. Bueker » Thu Jan 10, 2013 9:28 pm

Jenise,

I have the '95-'98 in the cellar. I will try to remember to check the blends on those this weekend.
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Re: Wine Focus for January: Can Merlot be saved?

by Brian K Miller » Fri Jan 11, 2013 12:03 am

Rahsaan wrote:
John Treder wrote:I must confess, Tim, that my experience of European wines is much less than a bottle a year. Just too expensive for anything that I've found I liked. $35 here can buy you a really good wine. Yes, it's different in character from the Europeans..


I think character is the main issue. $35 can also buy you a really good European wine, although you may not like it.


I honestly think, on the whole, that European wines represent a better value. There are very, very few sub-$20 Califronia wines I like...especially reds. Too many are industrialized, sweet, smooth plonk. To my taste at least. In contrast, many Laguedoc and Italian reds in particular provide far more pleasure. Outside the prestige areas, European wines that are too expensive often seem to be following a big fruit New World style that I generally (not always) dislike. So....

Just my humble opinion, as I am a member of the anti-flavor brigade. :oops:
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Re: Wine Focus for January: Can Merlot be saved?

by Bob Parsons Alberta » Fri Jan 11, 2013 9:47 pm

Jenise wrote:
Bob Parsons Alberta wrote:WTN: 2009 Gray Monk Odyssey Label Merlot, VGA Okanagan BC.

Proud to be Canadian and happy to talk about this merlot which showed up in a tasting downtown a couple of months ago.
Gray Monk is one of our better wineries and is well known for their whites and reds. The Pinot Gris is one of the much-acclaimed wines that is consistent every year.
The Merlot. Big aromatic nose..hint of oak, pepper, currant and blackberry. Entry is off-dry with some cocoa. Earthy for sure, good balance and acidity. Plenty of black fruits and pleasing all round. $28 Cdn.


It's been years since I paid my one visit to the Gray Monk winery, Bob, but the wine I bought while there? The Odyssey merlot. Very very earthy and European in style compared to the sweeter, more extracted American style I'm used to. Presuming nothing's change, your ardor is well placed here.


Just picked up the `10 Jenise so stay tuned :wink:
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Re: Wine Focus for January: Can Merlot be saved?

by Joe Moryl » Sat Jan 12, 2013 12:00 am

Finally recovered from a week-long cold, I needed a glass of wine to test my palate. This thread reminded me that I haven't had a Merlot dominated wine in some time, and Ryan's note above reminded me that basic a Bordeaux might be worth a try.

2009 Chateau de Camarsac, Bordeaux AC:

This is from Entre-Deux-Mers and is 95% Merlot and 5% Cab Franc. Color is a rather deep red with just a smidgen of maroon. Not much on the nose, just some graphite notes. But a very nicely balanced, medium weight wine on the palate, with some leafy cassis/bramble and very respectable length. Not flabby, and has some graphitic and mineral notes too. Decent stuff, but not very exciting; probably best for drinking in the short term. Certainly worth the $11 tariff. 13.5% abv.
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Re: Wine Focus for January: Can Merlot be saved?

by John Treder » Sat Jan 12, 2013 12:24 am

Tim, Rahsaan: Perhaps my problem is in finding good European wines that I can buy off the shelf on a whim, much as I can head off to a local winery that I've never visited before and have an even chance of finding something that tastes good for $20 to $30. There are more than 150 wineries in Sonoma County!!! And most of them are within half an hour's drive of my home.
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Re: Wine Focus for January: Can Merlot be saved?

by Jenise » Sat Jan 12, 2013 2:33 pm

I took a '98 Clinet, which is a Pomerol usually made up of around 85% merlot vs. 10% cab sauv and 5% cab franc to Friday lunch in Vancouver yesterday. The group pegged Bordeaux but not the merlot component, thinking it more cab sauv-like. Which might be the only relevance to this thread, since the French have never had the issue with merlot that plagues American wine tastes. Drinks beautifully now and easily at peak with no further upside potential from here--our assessment, and completely in line with recent reports on Cellar Tracker--though it seems, theoretically, a little early for a '98 right banker.
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Re: Wine Focus for January: Can Merlot be saved?

by David M. Bueker » Sat Jan 12, 2013 7:26 pm

Jenise wrote:Hmmm! Didn't realize it would change that much from year to year. I thought it was a field blend so pretty much set in what went in, and the 06's I have are what I just mentioned. An old favorite of mine, though, dating back to our early wine years in Alaska.


Took a look at the other vintages in the cellar. The blends are all over the place. One year had only 17% merlot.
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Re: Wine Focus for January: Can Merlot be saved?

by Jenise » Sat Jan 12, 2013 8:06 pm

David M. Bueker wrote:
Jenise wrote:Hmmm! Didn't realize it would change that much from year to year. I thought it was a field blend so pretty much set in what went in, and the 06's I have are what I just mentioned. An old favorite of mine, though, dating back to our early wine years in Alaska.


Took a look at the other vintages in the cellar. The blends are all over the place. One year had only 17% merlot.


Really! Then def not a field blend. Wonder about the origins of the Pickberry name, then; any idea?
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Re: Wine Focus for January: Can Merlot be saved?

by David M. Bueker » Sat Jan 12, 2013 9:12 pm

The Ravenswood website lists it under their vineyard designate category, so Pickberry is probably the site. I have some large maps of the Sonoma vineyards rolled up somewhere. Maybe I will get them out.
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Re: Wine Focus for January: Can Merlot be saved?

by Victorwine » Sat Jan 12, 2013 11:21 pm

Hi Jenise,

Really! Then def not a field blend. Wonder about the origins of the Pickberry name, then; any idea?


According to Ravenswood’s website, there is an interesting story to that name. The owners (living in the San Francisco area), looking for a weekend “get-away”, found a piece of property on the north side of Sonoma Mountain. At first they spent just weekends there in a trailer, than they had a cabin built. Their toddler children referred to the property as the “Pickberry” place. (I guess that’s what the kids did when up there).

Salute
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Re: Wine Focus for January: Can Merlot be saved?

by Tim York » Sun Jan 13, 2013 4:58 pm

La Petite-Église – Pomerol – 2001 – is the second wine of Château l’Église-Clinet (90% Merlot, 10% CabFranc) and is likely to be the nearest I get to the Grand Vin which now costs over €300 for the 2010. In 2009 I wrote -

It was full bodied, rich and hedonistic with red fruit touched by liqueur and sufficient acidity and grip to avoid the besetting Merlot sins of jamminess and cloying; more rigour would be ideal for me but this was attractively well balanced easy drinking; 16/20+.

I think that time has added an element of refinement, slightly slimming down its body and richness, but I wouldn't change change my broad conclusions.
Last edited by Tim York on Mon Jan 14, 2013 7:08 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Wine Focus for January: Can Merlot be saved?

by Bob Parsons Alberta » Sun Jan 13, 2013 5:03 pm

Sounds nice Tim and a bit more easy drinking than the `10 Gray Monk (BC) Odyssey Merlot I opened last night.
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