Thursday, April 29, 2010

Tasting Event: Revenge of the Merlot

The Revenge of the Merlot tasting event staged by Ian Blackburn's Learn About Wine was praised up and down in the social media the next day, and with good reason. His program was yet another in a long line of classy, comfortable tasting events - the kind he has become known for.

Held at Elevate, a lounge on the 21st floor of 811 Wilshire, just down the hall from Takami Sushi, Revenge displayed the wines of well over two dozen wineries. Most of those pouring were from California except a handful of Washington wineries, an outfit from Tuscany and an importer with an array of Chilean wines.

Every wine poured was worthy of praise, some more than others. I'll get to my tasting notes shortly. The wine was my focus, since I tasted in the afternoon. I understand from some who attended the main show in the evening that it was nothing short of splendid. Several "downtowners" noted they enjoyed the opportunity to have an event like Revenge in their 'hood and even more commented on the rockin' after-party party hosted by Richard Blade.

The nice thing about a tasting event is that all the wines poured are probably good. What kind of winery wouldn't bring their best? Some at Revenge tried to sneak in one or two of their top line Cabs, but the date was reserved for Merlot, so it was Merlot I tasted.  Here's what I liked:

Cakebread
Merlot, Napa Valley 2007 - 10% Carneros fruit; really nice structure
Merlot 2002 - 45% Carneros - lush and earthy; lots of graphite; drinking very well; star

Candor
Merlot, California, Lot 2, Multi-Vintage - blend of '06 '07 '08; smokey with dark fruit; half sourced from Paso Robles, half from Santa Barbara County; star


Clos du Val
Merlot, Napa Valley 2006 - great earthy aroma; dark fruit and pencil lead

Coho
Michael Black Vineyard 06 - really aromatic; hint of lavender on nose and palate


Duckhorn
Merlot Napa 2007; a blend of vineyards; earthy blackberry
Merlot, Three Palms Vineyard, Napa 2006 - 1st wine they made, back in the '70s; dark fruit and earth; dense and chewy; star


Gundlach Bundschu
Estate Merlot, Sonoma, Rhinefarm Vineyard 2006; interesting nose; more acidity than most; less oak; Star


Hidden Oak
Merlot, Paso Robles, James Vineyard 2006 - fruity and unfettered
Encanto - Merlot 60%, Cabernet Sauvignon 40%; very fruity with smoke; very slight graphite note


Krupp Bros
Merlot, Napa, Stagecoach Vineyard 2005 - 100% Merlot; bright but gamey with smoke; star
The Advocate, Stagecoach Vineyard 2006 - Bordeaux blend; 42% Merlot, 32% Mslbec, 26% Petit Verdot; bright, light nose, smokey and earthy; one of the biggest of the show; tannins very lively; driest of the bunch; star


L'Ecole No 41
Merlot, Columbia Valley, 2006 - bright and fruity; blended with Cab Franc, Petit Verdot & Cab Sauvignon
Merlot, Walla Walla Valley Estate, Seven Hills Vineyard 2007 - single vineyard; darker and earthier than the '06; blended with Cab Franc and Cab Sauvignon


Northstar
Merlot, Columbia Valley 2006 - blended with Cab Sauvignon, Cab Franc & Petit Verdot; smokey and bright


Rosenthal
The Malibu Estate Merlot 2006 - Devon Vineyard; complex and fresh with spices apparent


Twomey Cellars 
Merlot, Napa Valley 2005 - fruit from Calistoga; smokey nose and taste; 4% Cab Franc


Ty Caton
Merlot, Sonoma Valley 2008 - unique flavor profile; chocolate note, maybe a chocolate mint; quite nice; 12% Syrah, 6% Petite Sirah; star