This year again the #winepw group are having a celebration of Merlot Month. Several of us received wine samples and although I'm sure there is overlap in the bottles we all received, it should be a fun discussion of all things Merlot! Check out the wines, tastings, pairings, musings below, and join us on Twitter on Saturday, 10 October at 8 AM PST under #winepw to chat to everyone about their thoughts on Merlot, the wines, and their Merlot+food pairings.
- Andrea at The Quirky Cork shares "Three Turkish Merlots"
- Camilla at Culinary Adventures with Camilla shares "Merlot: A Varietal That Plays Well with Others"
- Cindy at Grape Experiences shares "Sip Merlot with Vegetarian Favorites"
- Deanna at Asian Test Kitchen shares "Fall Vegan Menu Paired with 2016 Napa Merlots"
- David at Cooking Chat shares "Merlot Food Pairing: Tips and Favorites"
- Gwendolyn at Wine Predator shares "Meatloaf and #MerlotMe with Sonoma’s Selby and Columbia Valley’s L’Ecole No. 41"
- Jane at Always Ravenous shares "Merlot Pairing: Baked Pasta with Sausage Ragù"
- Jeff at Food Wine Click! shares "A Tale of Two Merlots at the Grill"
- Jill at L'Occasion shares "What’s So Special About Merlot?"
- Lauren at The Swirling Dervish shares "October is #MerlotMe Month: Here’s What I’ve Been Sipping"
- Linda at My Full Wine Glass shares "Kicking off #MerlotMe in the Pacific time zone”
- Liz at What's in that Bottle? shares "Make Room for Merlot!"
- Lori at Exploring the Wine Glass shares "Leaves on the Ground and #MerlotMe in my Glass"
- Lynn at Savor the Harvest shares "Next Gen Merlot From Where It All Started"
- Martin at Enofylz shares "A Meatless #MerlotMe Redux"
- Nicole at Somms Table shares "5 #MerlotMe Nights"
- Payal at Keep the Peas shares “Kicking Off Autumn With #Merlotme”
- Pinny at Chinese Wine & Food Pairings shares “#MerlotMe with Markham and L’Ecole No. 41 Merlots and Army Ramen”
- Robin at Crushed Grape Chronicles shares "Merlot from elegant to badass. Time to #Merlotme."
- Rupal at Syrah Queen shares “#MerlotMe - Best Food Pairings For Merlot”
- Susannah at Avvinare shares “Brazilian Merlot Is Always Welcome At My Table”
- Terri at Our Good Life shares "Merlot Me with Noodless Lasagne"
- Wendy at A Day in the Life on the Farm shares "Woohoooooooo....It is #MerlotMe month"
MERLOT + MERLOT MONTH
October has been declared as National or, depending on whom you ask, International Merlot Month. The #MerlotMe hashtag was created in 2013 to promote Merlot and perhaps counter some of the negative effect of the movie Sideways. Evidently, Sideways has the dubious distinction of turning wine drinkers in an entire country - the US - off Merlot. I've watched the movie and I can say that "I'm never drinking Merlot" was NOT my takeaway from the movie. In fact, I had no take-aways from it. I'm sure I've missed something but I haven't figured out how an average buddy film could single-handedly have such a profound effect on a wine grape that is used in acclaimed wines such as Petrus. But it has, since 2004 when the movie was released. I hope this is an MBA case study somewhere! Despite the ups and downs, winemakers have continued to produce excellent Merlot wines and for that, many of us wine lovers are grateful.
I've received four wine samples for Merlot Month and have reviewed only two here. The wines all arrived 3 days ago and I was quarantined so wasn't allowed in the kitchen until today. Nevertheless, I'm glad to be back and thankful that I did not catch Covid-19 or anything else during my flights and time spent working with others.
2017 Duckhorn Vineyards Napa Valley Merlot
80% Merlot, 16% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2.5% Cabernet Franc, 1% Petit Verdot, 0.5% Malbec
14.5% ABV | Sample (SRP $56)
100 French oak, 40/60 new/neutral
Ripe, ripe, ripe black and blue fruit, almost jammy. A whiff of baking spices and vanilla.
Similar to nose: ripe black and blue fruit, a splash of red fruit, baking spices, vanilla. A refreshing juicy acidity, fine-grained tannins, a medium+ body, with a lengthy finish. The wine opened up as it sat in the glass but overall it could use a rest in the bottle. I think it would be great in 3-5 years.
2018 Decoy Sonoma County Merlot
98% Merlot, 1% Cabernet Sauvignon, 1% Petit Verdot
13.9% ABV | Sample (SRP $25)
100 French oak, 40/60 new/neutral
Black cherry, violets, black and white pepper
Black cherry, cocoa, cedar, and a note of minerality at the taper. Juicy acidity, dusty tannins, medium body, medium finish. This wine may be terrific in 2-3 years but I'm not sure how much more complexity it would develop. It might be best to enjoy it now.
We paired both wines with a gratin of ziti and cauliflower done in an equal mix of two classic French sauces: sauce tomate and soubise. The sauce tomate brought the acidity to match the Merlot, and the soubise brought the smooth heft from the béchamel sauce and onion purée. The parmesan-bread crumb crust added the savoury umami that really brought everything together. And the pasta and cauliflower added a much-needed coziness. In general both wines went nicely with the gratin but the Duckhorn was the clear winner if there were one. This was a perfect stay-in for the evening and watch your favourite movie or TV show wine and food pairing. A welcome change from the hectic few weeks I've had of wilderness holiday, work travel and project follow-up, exam prep and exam, and finally ~10 days of quarantine since I'd been out of town for work. I barely remember September!