Showing posts with label Miles and Merlot. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Miles and Merlot. Show all posts

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

I AM Drinking That @#$%& Merlot

Murrieta's Well is a Wente property in California's Livermore Valley. They take great pride in being one of the Golden State's "original wine estates." The place was founded in the late 19th century, with cuttings from the Chateau d'Yquem and Chateau Margaux in France, not to be a name-dropper. The estate was bought in 1933 by Ernest Wente. In 1990, Philip Wente and Sergio Traverso "partnered together to revive the winery." Winemaker Robbie Meyer does a great job of turning the fruit entrusted to him into magnificent wines that tell the story of the land.

A virtual event recently put Murrieta's Well into an online tasting session, which is documented here. My thanks to those involved in putting on the show for inviting me and providing samples to taste.

Murrieta's Well Small Lot Livermore Valley Merlot

This estate wine is made from 90% Merlot grapes, 7% Cabernet Sauvignon and 3% Petite Sirah. The several varieties were vinified and aged separately, 18 months in French oak, 40% of which was new. It has alcohol at 14.1% abv and the 18 barrels produced have all been sold, according to the website.

This extremely dark wine has the sort of aromas that make me say, "I AM drinking some f%&@ing Merlot." Blackberry and plum dominate, but leather appears, with campfire smoke close behind. The palate is beautiful, sweet and juicy, with a firm tannic structure and mouth-watering acidity. Oak hints top it off nicely, with vanilla and spice. It will be great with your favorite steak, hot off the grill.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

"It's Just Wine, Drink It"

Every time I open a bottle of wine, I want it to the best I've ever had.  With the pop of each cork, hope rises anew.

Of course, it doesn't always work out that way.  Some bottles simply don't overwhelm.  It's alright with me when they don't, though.  People sometimes have ways of making themselves likable despite an absence of dazzling good looks, perfect hair or expensive clothes - relying instead on charisma.  Charles and Charles Merlot reminds me of a twist on that old blind date scenario: "Is she pretty?" "She's got a great personality."

With a lead-in like that, you may expect that I think this red is the kind which makes people say, "I am not drinking any @%$#ing Merlot!"  It's really not, but I had a hard time coming around to it.  It's a blind date wine.  "Does it taste good?"  "It's got a great personality."

Charles & Charles is a collaboration between winemaker Charles Smith and wine importer Charles Bieler.  Smith is a big believer in iconic labels - he was inspired by the Ralph Steadman drawings on early Bonny Doon labels - and he targets his marketing directly to the people who buy his wines.

The back label on the C&C Merlot features both Charleses having a brief, static conversation in front of an abstract American flag, Bieler speaking and Smith replying in each panel.  Different bottles have different panels on them.  "Party on, Charles." "Party on, Charles."  "Dude, you rock." "No, you rock."  "Washington Merlot is..." "My bag, man." "Dude, looks like you're posing for a mug shot." "I am."  "Are you crying?" "I love a Merlot, man. Tears of joy."  "Pairs well with." "Aah man, just drink it."  It was the final response - emblazoned on their website - that finally won me over.  I just drank it.  I liked it.

Charles and Charles teamed up with Napa Valley-based Trinchero Family Estates, which makes their line the first Washington state wines for the group.  There were 7,000 cases of Merlot made, and they are exclusively available through Whole Foods Market for about $14.

The wine is a blend of 78% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Petit Verdot and 2% Malbec from the Wahluke Slope AVA on the east side of the Columbia River, a warm climate site.  It is aged ten months in French oak, 40% of which was new.

The 2013 Charles and Charles Merlot shows as a medium-dark ruby color in the glass.  The nose is quite nice, bringing plenty of blackberries, blueberries and toasty oak notes with sage and smoke just peeking through.  There is maybe a little too much oak peeking through - possibly the preponderance of new oak used in aging is the reason for that.   On the palate, ripe plums and oak lead the way, with tons of oak spice jumping for joy on my taste buds.  It seems at first sip a fairly uninspired wine, with the oak effect overplayed.  On the second and third nights it was open, it did seem to settle down a bit and become much more enjoyable.  The wine is full-bodied and finishes spicy.

As far as a lifetime commitment goes, I can’t do that.  But if we’re just talking about being friends, I’m good with it.  The popping of the cork, in this case, did not change my world.  It did, however, gain me a new friend.

Follow Randy Fuller on Twitter

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.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Cheap Merlot As A Gift Wine

Gift wines are always appreciated at chez Now And Zin, even when they don’t bring allure, cachet or a hint of potential with them.  It is, truly, the thought that counts when it comes to gift wine.  That’s why there are so many Trader Joe’s locations.

The new neighbors brought over a bottle as a gift.  While it was a wonderful gesture, the wine demonstrated that either they don’t know much about wine, or they think I don’t.  It is the thought that counts, but I write about wine in this space, not good intentions.  So, after a hearty thanks to the neighbors, it’s time to swirl, sniff and sip a wine that hits right around the four dollar mark.

ForestVille Vineyards is one of the many tentacles of the Bronco Wine Company, the grape-stained conglomerate that seems to have a different label for every batch of grapes they harvest or buy.  Owner Fred Franzia is a wealthy man, thanks to his ability to make wines that are cheap and palatable.  He thinks a bottle of wine should never cost more than ten bucks, Chuck.  And most of his wines don’t cross that Mendoza line of perceived quality.

This one, under the ForestVille banner, blends Merlot, Petite Syrah and "mixed varietals" into a wine that hits 12.5%  abv on the alcohol meter.  I don't know if  "mixed varietals" indicates a field blend, inattention, an accident or grapes that were leftover in the crusher.  I was all ready to write that ForestVille Merlot's most distinguishing wine-like feature may be that it is bottled under natural cork.  I must admit, though, that it's actually not bad.  My wife thinks it's yummy.  She's right.  Still, Miles, from Sideways, would definitely not drink this f@#$%ing Merlot.

For those seeking out "cheap and palatable" wine, this hits the nail right on the head.  It falls into the vast chasm between "OK" and "good."  The fruit is full and ripe, but not complex.  The overdone oak effect really blunts the wine's value.  Acidity and tannic structure are both nice, however.  Although there are limitations here, the wine is actually a decent value considering that, at the price point, value is generally not a consideration.

Follow Randy Fuller on Twitter