• 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!