Corks, Kegs and Commentary

Events, news and musings from the crew at Hayden Beverage Company. Information on beer, wine and events in the state of Idaho

Wine of the week: Merlot!!

Brian Golden - Thursday, August 16, 2012

   It has been nearly a decade since the movie “Sideways” gave Merlot a proverbial kick to the groin, and tastings like todays’ make me curse what was otherwise an excellent, and at times downright hilarious, film.  The complex plot explored depression, lost love, infidelity and a host of other topics, and yet one line, “I’m not drinking any f***ing Merlot,” became all that audiences remembered.

The movie, behind the wine ramblings of its lead characters, launched California Pinot Noir into the “must have” category while portraying Merlot as uninspired and pedestrian; the bush league of serious wine. 

Just try telling that to the folks over at Gundlach Bundschu, who have spent six generations producing premium grapes, including Merlot, in southern Sonoma County.  (Continuously operating since 1858, it is the oldest family owned winery in all of California)  And while their name requires a series of Pictionary cards to help with pronunciation (think GUN-LOCK-BUN-SHOE), their Merlot needs no help whatsoever.  The Gun-Bun’s were among the first to produce a varietal labeled Merlot, and are immensely proud of the grape’s diversity and complexity.

We just sampled The 2009 Estate Merlot, which features glorious aromatics, elegant tannins and a sturdy but polished backbone.  Black raspberry abounds, leading to the kind of finish that only a high quality, balanced Merlot can produce.  Certainly my wine of the week.

And that is just the tip of the iceberg.  Gripping expressions of this noble grape can be found throughout California’s North Coast and Washington’s Columbia Valley.  Merlot deserves to reclaim its place at the table, and producers such as Twomey, Trinchero, Bookwalter and Etude will help you remember why.

By the way… the movie concludes with the main character enjoying a prized bottle of Chateau Cheval Blanc.  This is a right bank Bordeaux wine that likely contained at least 40% Merlot.  He seemed to really enjoy it.


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