A Month of Merlot

Like the talented child who has been overshadowed by his elder bother, Merlot is finally beginning to regain its birthright. The self-proclaimed Merlot Month of October is as good a time as any to celebrate this grape. IntoWine hand selected four Merlots to help you rediscover why Merlot is so good.

2013 Pakravan Papi Montescudaio Campo del Pari, Italy, Tuscany, Wine Review

Reason to check out the sales bin at grocery stores and talk with the managers.  This is an Italian (Tuscan) Merlot marked down from $45 to $30.  Is it amazing?  No.  Is it a nice value and a chance to try a new wine?  Yes.  Purple in color.  The nose has plums, slight chocolate and cherries.  On the palate, this is not real ripe.  Plums, black cherries with underlying hay and dry forest floor.  Decent acidity.  Nice finish.  Food friendly.  Easy drinking with a bit of depth.  

2010 Joseph Phelps Insignia Proprietary Red Wine, USA, California, Napa, Wine Review

This is made from 84% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Petit Verdot and the rest Merlot and Malbec.  Insignia is one of the First Growth wines of California.  Its great just about every vintage and has been for decades.  This one is no exception.  Inky purple.  The nose has cassis, graphite, blueberries, leather and cigar box.  On the palate, this is still young.  Medium tannins.  Great balance.  Lots of cassis and some blueberries with underlying damp forest floor.  Long finish.  Delicious.  Will work great with heartier foods and certainly with meat dishes.  The price on these is up to around $250

2012 Jarvis Winery Merlot, USA, California, Napa, Wine Review

Purple in color, ruby at the rim.  The nose has sweet plums, black cherries and sandal wood.  Firm tannins.  On the palate, black cherry pie.  Delicious if ripe.  Some heat.  This is more of a cocktail wine to be drunk on its own.  It will prove to be a difficult food match.  Perhaps is settles down with some cellaring.  Drink in the next five to be safe but who knows, it might last twenty.  

2009 Château La Violette, France, Bordeaux, Pomerol, Wine Review

09 was a pretty open vintage especially on the right bank.  At age 9, this is drinking very well.  That said, there is plenty of room for further improvement.  Purple in color.  The nose has black cherries, black raspberries, dark chocolate and char.  On the palate, this is juicy with a full bodied texture.  Black raspberries, layered with chocolate dust and slight oak notes.  Long finish.  This will work with roasted meats dishes quite well.  Another five years in the cellar and this should come together quite well.  If opening now, give it some air.  

2003 Château Ducru-Beaucaillou, France, Bordeaux, Wine Review

One of the great wines of Bordeaux well deserving of its second growth status.  This is from a very hot vintage that many wine makers had some trouble with.  Purple in color, ruby at the rim.  The nose has cassis, black cherries, slight tobacco and slight fresh floral notes.  On the palate, this is drinking quite well.  Showing some development, it is close but not yet at peak.  Layers of cassis and black cherry fruit, with some dry earthy forest floor.  Wispy tannins at this point.  Long finish.  Would work well with roasted meats and other foods.  Some possible upside still left.  

2016 Bonterra Elysian Collection Merlot, USA, California, Wine Review

Purple/ruby in color.  The nose is nice with dusty cherries, raspberries and carob.  On the palate, this has a nice acidity.  Soft texture.  Some complexity.  Raspberry fruit with underlying dry earthiness.  Good finish.  Served to a group, this was quite a crowd pleaser among wine lover (not wine geeks).  This should be pretty versatile with most foods.  This retails for $25 which is a very nice value in California Merlot.