• Merlot Musings

    I love Merlot.  It’s smooth, soft, and supple.  It’s a staple in Bordeaux, one of the most popular wine regions in the entire world.  Across the globe, winemakers use it to complement the aggressive tannins in varietals like Cabernet Sauvignon.  But for some reason, the mass market seems to eschew bottles that specifically say “Merlot” on the label.

    At this point, I’m sure many of you have heard of the movie Sideways, which many blame for Merlot’s downfall.  In the movie, the character Miles famously exclaims, “If anyone orders Merlot, I’m leaving. I am not drinking any [expletive] Merlot!”  Entire studies and articles have been written about the implications of this single line in the film.  Conclusion: not good.  I’m not exactly sure why anyone took Miles’s advice as fact.  He was specifically designed to be flawed; a character unhappy in his own skin trying to find meaning in wine country.  I’m also not exactly sure why we’re still treating a movie that’s almost 20 years old as gospel.  Sideways debuted in 2004.

    Why am I bringing this all up now?  First, I just brought one of my favorite Merlots back to Wine on Main.  Margarett’s Merlot is made in California by the McNab family, the same people who make the McNab Cabernet Sauvignon that many of you know and love.  The whole operation is family-run and pretty small.  They make about 2,000 cases of Margarett’s Merlot, which is on the smaller side when it comes to wine production.  The wine has aromas and flavors of ripe black cherries, plums, and soft mocha followed by toasty oak and undertones of baking spices.  Did I mention it’s only $16.99?  It’s moving reasonably well, but for how good it is I would expect it to fly out of here by the case!  I really hope that people put their Merlot bias to the side and try it.  Justice for Merlot!

    Second, I tried a really awesome Merlot the other day from Schild Estate.  If that sounds familiar, it’s because we carry their Shiraz.  They are another family-owned vineyard passed down through generations located in Australia’s Barossa Valley.  It had bold flavors of cherry and raspberry as well as vanilla bean and clove spice.  The body was lush and full.  As much as I enjoyed it and wanted it (or want it? Still pondering….) to sell at Wine on Main, I couldn’t help but wonder: “Will customers really go for an Australian Merlot?  Is the Sideways curse real?”  Let me know your thoughts!

  • New Year, New Wines!

    January is a strange time in the world of wine.  On the one hand, the hustle and bustle of the holidays has died down.  In terms of foot traffic and sales, things seem a little quiet.  On the other hand, it’s incredibly busy!  There’s much to plan, from events to new wines.  My current daily planner only goes until June, so I’ll need to buy a new one soon enough.

    Wine on Main has approximately 140 facings.  It’s not the smallest wine set, but it’s far from the largest.  As a result, every single wine that we sell has to be the best of the best.  It has to represent its region and check every box.  Additionally, the pressure’s on to keep things fun and fresh.  I’ll hang onto the wines that you love- I don’t need a mutiny to kick off 2023.  However, as much as I’m attached to a wine, it’s important that I rotate in new items that are equally as good to keep things new and interesting.

    I also like to re-evaluate wines based on your feedback.  If you mention a region or varietal that I don’t have in store, I do my best to find it.  For example, someone mentioned South African Chenin Blanc recently, so I’ve made it a point to track down a great one for our World section.

    To those ends, I’ve been busy tasting new wines to add to the selection… and I’ve found some real winners!  Today, I tasted 20 (!!!) wines with 2 wine brokers.  (This is why spitting is necessary, regardless of how unbecoming it may seem).  Of those, I discovered 5 that I really enjoy.  3 will be arriving tomorrow, or first thing next week at the latest.

    Here is a sneak peek:

    Kumusha Chenin Blanc, South Africa– Remember the Chenin Blanc I was talking about?  Well this is a fabulous one from South Africa.  Born and raised in Zimbabwe, winemaker Tinashe Nyumudoka moved to South Africa for better economic prospects. Without any prior experience, his journey took him from waiter to head sommelier of Africa’s most lauded restaurant, The Test Kitchen, and also respected wine judge on international competitions.  Kumusha translates to “your roots.”  Clean, crisp, and dry, this wine has flavors of pear, citrus, and melon with hints of minerality.

    Ravines Cabernet Franc, Finger Lakes- As a Cornell grad, it’s no secret that I’m partial to the Finger Lakes.  Those were some of my very first wine tastings and helped usher me into wine.  I love Cabernet Franc in general, but especially from the Finger Lakes.  Cool climate Cabernet Franc is a light ruby red in the glass and elegant and restrained on the palate.

    Ruelas Vinho Tinto Reserve, Portugal- This is a bold blend of Tinta Roriz and Touriga Nacional- as well as a touch of Syrah for extra backbone!  The wine has dark fruit flavors like blackberry, plum, and a touch of black pepper.  It’s a great wine for winter when you want something powerful and flavorful.  It’s incredibly affordable too.

    I can’t wait for you to try these and more will be coming in soon!