Friday, January 09, 2009

The Much-Maligned Merlot

I delight in drinking what's not popular. I got the biggest kick out of running into a co-worker at a wine tasting who was scouting pinot noirs (at the height of the Sideways craze). She recoiled when I mentioned a great merlot I had just tasted.

I've done this rant before, but it's worth repeating.

The anti-merlot backlash has faded, but I think it still doesn't get its due. Sure, there are a lot of less than inspiring merlots out there, but the same can be said for any popular varietal. Syrah is probably on its way to over-saturation...if it isn't already there.

So, I look for merlot when I'm shopping, hoping to discover what others have overlooked. I've had an older vintage of Hope Estate Merlot that impressed me, so when I saw a bottle of the 2005 vintage, I grabbed it

What a great choice. This is serious merlot. It has wonderful depth with flavors of plum, cherry, chocolate and a nice bit of herb. Even though it's a warm-climate merlot, it's got amazing structure and a firm backbone of acidity. Well done.

I have to admit I've been off Aussie wines lately. There are so many over-done, fruit bombs crowding the market lately. This is not one.

Hope Estate produces some excellent wines in a more balanced style. Their verdelho is not to be missed.


Anonymous said...

Ahhh, yes... this brings to mind in the world of beers...the hop nuts. The sharp bitter backlash of a beer, the soapy flavors, the resinous sticky grapfuit nose. Somehow folks got nuts about beers that back handed their tongues, and assulted the taste buds so anything they ate, or drank was muted after the fact. it might have been fun at first, but now IPA are the largest style of beer, and if you want to shine, you better be a brute in the IPA industry.

To me a merlot is much like the classic stout...supple, silky, bold, yet smooth... a woman of class, a beer or character..classy, well behaved but yet something you can still feel proud with as she is strutting by your side at the next party.

I agree merlots are overlooked, but are still the classic backup for me in wines. How can anyone deny the classic style of a merlot. It might not be trendy, but its still sexy to me. And I often have to remind people that cute is nice, but sexy is forever.


John said...

A very apt comparison, mrT. I'm actually drinking a glass of Magic Hat Lucky Kat right now and trying to decide whether it's a bit hoppy for my taste.

And, E is having a glass of Thomas Henry Merlot. How perfect.