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.

2017 Justin Vineyards & Winery Justification, USA, California, Paso Robles, Wine Review

Vintage: 
2017
Score: 
92
Grade: 
A-
Current Price: 
$60.00USD

This is a "right bank" Bordeaux blend from Paso Robles.  It is 65% Cabernet Franc and 35% Merlot and sees 44% new French oak for 20 months..  Ruby/purple in color, mostly clear and bright.  The nose is nice with black cherries, dusty, baking spices, slight tobacco and cedar.  On the palate, this has thick tannins at this stage.  Lots of cherries, red currants, spice and slight earthiness.  It is very tight right now but opened up nicely on day 2.  If drinking now, give it a good decant.  This should improve a bit over the next few years and be good for seven to ten years after that.  It has

2017 Flora Springs Merlot, USA, California, Napa, Wine Review

Vintage: 
2017
Score: 
91
Grade: 
A-
Current Price: 
$38.00USD

Another in a fine line of Napa Merlot's from Flora Springs.  Merlot ripens earlier than Cabernet allowing the vineyard manager to let fruit hang if needed to get ripe.  No issues here despite a less than stellar growing season.  Purple in color, ruby at the rim.  The nose has black cherries, milk chocolate and spice.  A nice silky texture.  Lots of black cherry fruit.  Light tannins.  This is still young but drinks quite easy.  It will mature a bit, but is drinking great now.  It should drink well over the next seven to ten years.  Great on its own or a nice match for burgers or ribs.  

2017 Psagot Edom, Israel, Judean Hills, Wine Review

Vintage: 
2017
Score: 
91
Grade: 
A-
Current Price: 
$33.00USD

This a red blend of 45% Merlot, 42% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 13% Petit Verdot grown at high elevation in the Edom Mountains.  It is Kosher.  Purple in color, ruby at the rim.  A very nice Bordeaux-like nose.  Cassis, black cherries, cherries, slight cigar box, gravel and slighter bell pepper.  On the palate, this is medium bodied with lighter but present tannins.  Moderate acidity.  A nice depth and complexity.  Notes of cassis and cherry fruit over gravel.  Ripe but not overtly.  Drinks easily right now.  I don't think this will get better but should drink well for five to seven more years.

2016 La Dame de Montrose, France, Bordeaux, St. Estephe, Wine Review

Vintage: 
2016
Score: 
88
Grade: 
B+
Current Price: 
$42.00USD

This is a second wine of Chateau Montrose.  Tasted blind, with a tasting group, this was disappointing.  It finished in last place for me and close to that for the group.  It is a fine wine, but more was expected once the label was revealed.  Purple in color, shimmering bright and opaque.  The nose has cherries, black cherries and spice.  On the palate, light tannins and sour cherries.  Easy drinking.  It is a blend of 52% Merlot, 35% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 13% Cabernet Franc.  Right now, the Merlot dominates.  Of course, with some, the Cabs could wake up and get the party started.  Based

2016 Realm Cellars The Bard, USA, California, Napa, Wine Review

Vintage: 
2016
Score: 
98
Grade: 
A
Current Price: 
$140.00USD

What an amazing wine.  This is one of the more "affordable" Cabernet's from Realm.  It is still very expensive, but this is some of the best that Napa has to offer.  It is about 70% Cabernet Sauvignon and 30% Merlot.   Purple in color, opaque and shining bright.  The nose is great with cassis, blueberries, cedar, spice and char.  Just a gorgeous texture.  Lush and velvety but with enough cut to not be cumbersome.  Plenty of cassis and blueberry fruit with underlying tobacco and chart.  Long finish.  This is still young but just delicious.  With time, this will show more complexity although

1999 Arietta Merlot, USA, California, Napa, Wine Review

Vintage: 
1999
Score: 
93
Grade: 
A
Current Price: 
$75.00USD

On release, these were big, bold wines made, at least in part, by John Kongsgaard.  Of course, its now 21 years since vintage and one wold be hard pressed to call this anything but right bank if tasting blind.  Part of that is one doesn't expect a Napa Merlot to age this well.  It does have 10% Syrah in the blend so that may be part of it.  Deep ruby in color.  The nose is dusty with cherries, black cherries, slight cedar and some earthy funk.  On the palate, this has a great texture.  Black cherry fruit with a touch of dark chocolate and underlying earthiness.  This is complex and also vib

1999 Vérité La Joie, USA, California, Sonoma, Wine Review

Vintage: 
1999
Score: 
94
Grade: 
A
Current Price: 
$150.00USD

This was purchased by me on release back when it was merely expensive.  Today, this is one of the top guns of the Kendal Jackson empire and the pricing has gotten prohibitive for the newer releases.  If trying this blind, a good guess might have been a 1999 Bordeaux, maybe Graves or maybe even 1998.  it was quite good and certainly just about at peak.  A 60/40 blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.  Purple/ruby in color with just a hint of browning at the rim.  The nose has some brett but plenty of cassis, cherries and an earthy funk too.  On the palate, this is complex.  Layers of fruit (

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