Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Charles Krug Wine Napa Valley Merlot

A May virtual tasting event under the BrandLive banner featured Charles Krug Wine proprietor Peter Mondavi, Jr. tasting and tweeting about his family’s stake in the Napa Valley.  Charles Krug is the oldest winery in California and Peter Mondavi, Sr. is perhaps the oldest vintner.  He is within swirling, sipping and spitting distance of the century mark.

2011 was the 150th vintage for the Charles Krug label, and three of the wines on the tasting list for the Twitter event were from that vintage, their Napa Valley Merlot, Family Reserve "Generations" blend and Family Reserve "Howell Mountain" Cabernet Sauvignon.  See the video of the tasting here.

Wine lovers in the twitterverse came alive for the event.  During the virtual tasting, @WineJulia commented on the wine’s drinkability, messaging that "the lower alcohol keeps these elegant, while the complexity & tannins bring them to life!"  @WineFashionista tweeted, "Interesting that of these four wines Merlot is Charles Krug's best seller!"  @WineHarlots mentioned of the Merlot, "Miles has left the building."

The Mondavi blurb writer calls the 2011 Charles Krug Napa Valley Merlot their “Cab lover’s Merlot,” and with good reason.  It is as big and bold as many a Cabernet Sauvignon hailing from America’s best-selling wine region, despite a cool growing season in 2011 that made harvest a few weeks later than usual.  The yield was down and the sugar content of the grapes was lower than they like, but the winemaking team members were thrilled to capture so much flavor despite the obstacles.

The Napa Valley grapes which make up this red blend are 84% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Petite Sirah, 3% Malbec and a 1% splash of Petit Verdot.  The wine spent 18 months aging in French and American oak barrels.  Alcohol clocks in at a pretty reasonable 14% abv - thank you, cool vintage - and retails for $25.

The wine has a very dark color, opaque ruby red in the glass.  The nose displays robust aromas of black cherry and blueberry with a nice plume of smoke laying over the fruit.  On the palate, the moniker “Cab Lover’s Merlot” really hits home.  Rich, bold fruit flavors burst forth impressively.  Savory undertones join the show, awash in dark berries and vanilla.  A very slight herbal sensation peeks through, a light bell pepper note - the only aspect of the taste that points to a cool vintage.

Pairing with red meat is a no-brainer - the tannins are fine and the acidity is juicy.  A cheese plate would be welcome, too.  Include some Camembert, Gouda and Gruyere.