Sunday, August 22, 2010

SALMON CREEK CELLARS MERLOT 2008


Salmon Creek Merlot

Salmon Creek is one of the 60 or so labels under Fred Franzia’s Bronco Wine Company umbrella.  It would seem Franzia names the labels for his California company by randomly selecting two words: the first word is an adjective, food or animal; the second is a word describing a facet of nature.  In this manner, he would have arrived at names like Almond Creek, Silver Ridge, Foxbrook, Crane Lake, Black Mountain and, of course, Salmon Creek.

I’ve had Salmon Creek wines before, in restaurants.  They - and most of Franzia’s product - are usually the least expensive wines on the menu.  This Merlot was gifted to me by the M Resort Spa Casino in Las Vegas.  At a rock-bottom price of $5.25 on the internet - and they probably paid less - it’s not the kind of wine I would want to give as a gift.  I have noticed that Las Vegas casinos don’t typically give great bottles of wine as gifts to their customers.  Maybe if our gambling contributions were larger, the wife and I would be on the list for some Gallo!

Sorry about all that peering into the gift Bronco’s mouth.  Let’s taste some cheap wine!

The color is medium ruby red, and I can see right through it.  The nose of ripe cherries and blackberries with a chimney smoke presence is pleasant, if not very commanding.  The taste shows cherry, red plums and a clove note that comes at mid-palate and lingers on the finish.  The tannins are less than spectacular.  The wine is smooth, but not really food friendly due to lack of acidity.  There is a fake-candy sort of quality to this Merlot that does not appeal to me, but might be right up someone else's alley.  The alcohol content is only 12.5% abv.  The grapes, according to the label, are sourced in Sonoma County.

I can’t say this is a good wine, but it’s really not a bad wine, either.  That depends a lot on your point of view, though.  In much the same way that Budweiser beer is drinkable, but not something to get excited about, so this Salmon Creek Merlot is nothing to cause you to pen a letter to the folks back home.  If you are looking for a cheap red wine to chill down on a hot summer day, or use in making sangria, this will do nicely.  If you are looking for a wine that will impress at a dinner party, keep looking.  And look higher up on the shelf.