Tonight I am cooking a standing rib roast in my Big Green Egg- something I have never done before. I figured it was a good time to crack this Napa Merlot open and give it a try. It’s got a nice purple hue and is about 70% opaque. Thin legs in the glass hint at the 13.4% alcohol. On the nose I get rich plums, perhaps some blackberry and toasty oak. The initial palate is delicious with plum torte, blackberry coulis, some smoked wood, Tobacco and some fruit cake. The mid palate has exceptionally integrated tannins and really nice acidity. The plum and blackberry flavors are very much present but I’m starting to get a dark cola note. The finish is very rounded with the tannins and acidity in perfect balance. I can almost taste the California sunshine in this wine. Merlot is such a supple, rounded varietal that has been unfairly thrashed of late. I really enjoy this particular profile and am going with 92 points. Drink till 2028 with any grilled meat, rich pasta or even by itself. At $33, it gets 5 stars. Salut….
I tasted the 2010 Brookman Merlot back in 2020. I’m a huge fan of this winery so when I see it- I buy it. This version is inky and opaque in the glass. On the nose- rich plum compote, cassis and singed alder. The palate is rich, mouth-coating and delicious. Layers of plum, blackberry, charred oak and coffee hit me. There is no room for the tannins to make themselves known, it’s a fruit driven explosion. They appear on the midpalate but are very well ingrained. The dark fruit theme continues and now I get the structure- the grip is medium in intensity and there is a nice balanced acidic component. The finish is where the acidity takes over, very juicy but I still get good primal fruit. This wine is young at 9 years, it will hopefully develop some tertiary notes and the tannins should meld in the next few years. Drink till 2030 with rich steaks, heavy sauces or a big bowl of Pasta. 92 points from me and for $25 it’s a home run with 5 stars. Salut….
Last up at the 14th Virtual Wine tasting was this stunner from Bordeaux that got a perfect 20 from yours truly. Totally opaque and dark purple. The nose showed off musty cigar box, leather, tobacco, dried cherry, damp forest floor and ‘a bag of craisins’. There was a very earthy component that was woodsy. Simply stunning. The palate had dried sage, dark fruit, cassis, smoke, black tea and cranberry. This 10 year old blend of 50% Merlot, 45% Cab Sav and 5% Petit Verdot has hit peak. The primal fruit is being overtaken by the tertiary flavors we long for when cellaring fine wine. This vintage was scored an overall 99 points by Wine Spectator, producing long lived wines with high scores from pretty much any producer. This one gets 92 points from me, which is consistent with the pros. At $40 it gets 5 stars and should be drunk by 2025. Salut….
It would not be Christmas without an aged Claret. This 19 year old took the honors and I am sure glad I picked it. Wow, what a stunner. I did not take notes but recall the wine looked a dark shade in the glass with no signs of bricking. The nose was astounding- tobacco, leather, earth, steeped plums and cassis. On the palate this wine is at plateau. I cannot even describe the beauty of liquid elixir. It was layered with the tertiary flavors I had smelled plus a surprising dose of dark currants, cassis and cedar. The tannins are fully resolved at this stage of the maturity, sublime being a good descriptor of the mouthfeel. The finish was super long and gratifying. This wine was a home run and has rewarded my patience. I think it still has a few years of life, but like I said- it’s at peak now. I have 6 more bottles in the cellar, lucky me! You could pair this wine with an array of foods, but simply enjoying it on its own would be amazing. I have written about the ’01 Cos before, once in 2012 and then in 2013. I am upping my score to 95 for this $150 beauty and sticking with 5 stars. Salut….
This Merlot is opaque and a dark shade of purple with a gorgeous nose of steeped plum, toasty oak, licorice and iodine. On the palate it offers rich fruit, nice acidity and grippy tannins. Blackberry, plums, charred oak and blueberry pie all hit me. The mid palate is quite smooth with lush fruit interlacing the rather powerful tannins that slightly overtake the acidity. The finish is medium length and quite dry. I sense this wine is a tad young and will drink nicely till 2028. I am roasting up a rack of Lamb with mint sauce and steamed greens- should work a treat. I’m enjoying the softness of the varietal but am surprised at the structure, the tannins just won’t quit. Yummy stuff. 90 points and 5 stars from me for this $16 wine. Salut….
The 13th Virtual Wine tasting included this Right Bank Merlot. It was stunning, mature and a hit. The wine is at peak, the color showing a bit of bricking on the rim. The nose is classic Bordeaux- Earthy, smoky, molasses, black fruit jam, leather, tobacco, licorice, cloves…. that’s a lot of descriptors from the panel. On the palate it was delicious, even dreamy as one member piped out. Black cherry, blackberry, tobacco, mushroom and leather were really the key components. The wine is still robust, with very well integrated tannins and a hint of acidity. The mouthfeel is great and lingers on the decent length finish. On my 20 point scale it got 19. Technically speaking, it is a 93 point wine in my book, way higher than the pros rated it back in the day. 2010 was a great year for the Clarets and this example is showing how well the wines have held up and how they have evolved so nicely. Drink till 2025 and for $35 buy a case if you can find it. 5 stars. Salut….
This Merlot is nearly opaque in the glass and shows a deep purple color, albeit slightly murky. On the nose I get cranberry, plum and spice box. On the palate it has an upfront astringency that catches me off-guard. Once past that the fruit flavors are very interesting- Pomegranate, blackberry and plum. There is a peppery note as well. The mid palate is quite tannic and the wine gets darker in the fruit flavor department. That spice box I got on the nose plays a bigger part as the wine progresses. The finish is a juicy affair with loads of acidity and tannins. Blackberry notes come through right at the end. I get the impression that this wine is a touch young and could use a few years in cellar. It feels a bit disjointed, with a bit of greeness showing through. I’m enjoying it now but recommend a drinking window of 2022-2026. It’s going with Alfredo tonight, a good pairing methinks. 89 points and 3 stars for this $17 effort. Salut….
This Napa blend of Petit Verdot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec, Syrah and Petite Sirah is really dark purple and inky in the glass. The nose is rich with blackberry flavors, iodine, a whiff of alcohol and oaky vanilla. The palate is very pleasing- blackberry compote, plump raisins, black cherry cola and bakers chocolate. The mid palate has a nice mouthfeel that has a touch of astringency and a whiff of acidity. Black fruits dominate and the oak influence is evident. Black tea, iodine and tannins round out the wine with a decent length finish that is neither dry nor sour. The structure feels like it will drink nicely till 2024, but extended cellaring probably won’t happen. It drinks nicely as is but I am pairing it with some Sous Vive Ribeyes, baked taters and grilled Asparagus. Overall- a decent drop that gets 89 points from me and 3 stars for its $45 release price. Salut….
I have been on a bit of a Merlot kick lately and this one had my name on it. It is semi opaque and a dark shade of purple in the glass. On the nose it gives off plum, cedar and spice box. Plums, baking spices and blueberry pie all hit the palate. Very fine grained tannins pop up on the middle palate along with more blue fruit flavors. There is a nice shot of acidity that keeps me on my toes, balancing out the tannins. There is a second wave of blueberry and plum flavors that really hit the back end, overriding the tannins and giving me a great fresh finish. Whilst not a big or complex wine, it drinks nicely and will do so till 2025. I’m pairing it up with some Steak and Cheese Hoagies. Should do the trick nicely. 88 points and 3 stars for this $15 wine. Salut….
Inky and opaque is this Bordeaux blend. On the nose I am treated to a melange of cassis, plums, blackberry and delicious oak. The palate is exactly what I was hoping for- rich, warm and layered with all those black fruits, very integrated tannins and a mound of acidity. This wine is very powerful and thick with fruit flavors, balancing doses of tannin and acidity and just the right amount of wood to make it very pleasing. The mid palate gets quite a bit more focused on the structure of the wine- the acidity really playing hell with my jaw and the tannins really starting to grip. If you’re looking for an unabashed wine that will pair well with game, grilled Ribeyes or a heavy pasta dish- this is it. The finish reminds me of young Claret, the fruit being masked by the power of the structural components. It will cellar nicely till 2030. 92 points from me for this $22 stunner that gets 5 stars. Salut….