Saturday, June 22, 2013

Wine Reviews: California Merlot

I’m not going to preface these reviews with some clichéd reference to the movie Sideways or mock Miles’ infamous “I’m not drinking any fucking Merlot!” rant. Oh, wait... Oops.

Let’s just get down to the Merlot. These four wines were received as samples and tasted blind.

2008 Grgich Hills Merlot Estate Grown - California, Napa Valley ($42)
Aromas of red currants, rose petals, red licorice and cinnamon. The palate shows a mix of creamy red and black plum fruit, along with notes of fig and rhubarb. Tangy acid keeps this refreshing, but the vanilla and toasted oak add richness. Very pleasant and round. (88 points)

2009 Fields Family Wines Merlot - USA, California, Napa Valley, Oak Knoll ($28)
Aromas of tart red and black plums, smoke and toasty oak. The palate is fresh and bright with cherries and plums. The toast and mocha aspects are well-integrated. Nice notes of soil and a hint of olive on the finish. Not the most profound wine, but very pleasurable. (86 points)

Not cheap, but this is a gorgeous Merlot.
2010 St. Supery Rutherford Estate Vineyard Merlot - California, Napa Valley, Rutherford ($50)
Purple-black color. Dark and brooding aromas of fig, boysenberry, vanilla extract, dark chocolate and smoke. Velvety on the palate, the fine tannins lining up nicely with the acid. The roasted plum, fig and boysenberry flavors are rich and saucy. Quite a bit of smoky-toasty oak. The finish is toasty and inky, but the acid comes through. Serious stuff. This merlot is perhaps a little rough around the edges and I’m guessing it will increase incrementally over the next few years. Aged 20 months in 64% new French oak. (91 points)

2010 Gainey Merlot - California, Central Coast, Santa Ynez Valley ($24)
Pretty nose of currants, blackberries, raspberries, and the fruit is highlighted by notes of oregano and pepper. Juicy red fruit starts off the palate, currants and raspberries. The medium-grain tannins and consistent acid add structure and freshness. Notes of bay leaf and pepper are mixed in with subtle chocolate and sweet vanilla. I like the way this wine shows richness but remains juicy. Includes 10% Cabernet Franc, this wine is aged 20 months in 38% new French oak. (87 points)

This post originally appeared on the daily wine blog Terroirist.

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