Miles isn’t going to like this Yogi

merlotgrapesMerlot is perhaps the most polarizing of all varietals here in California. Although its stature has never been shaken in its ancestral home of France, in California it’s reputation has taken a bit of beating since the early 2000’s. Much of this came from the flood of poor, over-ripe, cheaply made offerings that flooded the market following its huge surge of popularity in the 1990’s. The final blow came from the popular film Sideways released in 2004. In it, the main character Miles stated he would rather get up and leave a small dinner party than have to drink the “f#@&ing Merlot!”

While that scene is quite funny, it does not accurately paint the proper picture of the very high quality Merlot made by producers across the state. Here we bring you 6 offerings from a life altering premium wine by Krupp Brothers to some truly delightful wines that are great values and very food friendly.

Krupp Brothers 2007 Merlot

DdV: 96
Price: $70.00
Blend: 75% Merlot, 13% Petit Verdot, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2% Cabernet Franc
Source: Stagecoach Vineyard – Atlas Peak

Easily the best Merlot California had to offer for the 2007 vintage! As you may recall, we thought this wine stole the show at the Atlas Peak Harvest Celebration last summer. At $70 this is well into the premium category but is a very worthy representative of the magic of Atlas Peak’s Stagecoach vineyard.

Dark cherry and hints of plum, dark chocolate, and currant greet on the nose. The mid features more dark cherry, rich ripe plum, blackberry, and italian roast coffee. Finish is long with cedar and spice. The mouth-feel is lush and opulent. Although this is up there at 15.4% alcohol, the bright tannins level this into a very nicely balanced wine and will gain nuance in the cellar for 5+ years. Perfect for grilled steak, smoked beef ribs, or prime rib. Decant.

Luna Vineyards 2010 North Coast Merlot

DdV: 93
Price: $30.00
Blend: 86% Merlot, 14% Cabernet
Source: Farella Vineyard, Vaca Mtns., Ledgewood Vineyard, East Suisun Valley

A very different style than we’re used to from California Merlot. This wine is brighter than most but still quite lush and nuanced. On the nose plum, blackberry, and oaky vanilla greet. The mid features more dark berry and plum. The finish is long and satisfying with smokey oak and hints of chocolate. Tremendous balance and silky mouth-feel  Great with grilled beef but is bright enough for grilled duck or grilled chicken thighs! Decant.

Rodney Strong 2009 Sonoma County Merlot

DdV: 90
Price: $15.00 – $20.00
Blend: 100% Merlot
Source: Sonoma County

A delightful nuanced Merlot and also a fine value. On the nose, mountain berry abounds with hints of vanilla and spice. The mid features rich blueberry, huckleberry, and plum. Finish is medium long with notes of smokey oak, cocoa, and spice. Great with grilled fare.

Beaulieu Vineyard 2009 Merlot

DdV: 91
Price: $18.00
Blend: 100% Merlot
Source: Rutherford, Napa

Great value for a truly terrific wine. Plenty of plum and dark berry on the nose giving way to lush plum and berry on the mid. Fine balance and texture on the palate. Finish is clean and medium long with a small hint of herbs and smokey oak. Decant to really open it up.

Markham 2010 Merlot

DdV: 90
Price: $20.00
Blend: 91% Merlot, 8% Cabernet, 1% Cabernet Franc
Source: Napa Valley

A very soft, refined Bordeaux like Merlot here more reminiscent of Sonoma than it’s source from Napa. That said there’s plenty of fruit forward characteristics from the rich plum and berry on the nose and mid to the medium long finish of spice, currant, cocoa and oak. Great for grilled or braised dishes.

Robert Mondavi 2009 Merlot

DdV: 90
Price: $21.00
Blend: 93% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc, 2% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2% Malbec
Source: Napa Valley

Mondavi is such a huge everyday name that sometimes it’s easy to forget how truly delightful their wines are. This is no exception. On the nose a surprising blast of dark cherry with plum and oak. Mid is full of ripe berry and plum rounding out to a nice clean finish of smokey oak, chocolate and subtle spice. Another great wine for BBQ or braised fare. A quick (30 or so minutes) decant really opens up the nose.