Yesterday's wine tasting had a fun theme, the "Anti-Miles Merlot Tasting". As a retort against the declining Merlot sales sparked by Sideways, we ran through eleven decent Merlots from around the world. Since this grape tends to have a short aftertaste, it was possible to still appreciate flavors in the last couple of wines.
Wine 1: 2001 Christian Moueix Merlot. From Bordeaux, this had a pretty agressive start. Not sure that I liked it, but a good bargain. $11.
Wine 2: 2001 Mirassou Merlot. California, but not as fruit-forward as you'd think. Apparently it's got Pinot Noir in there too. Well balanced, but not exciting. I just haven't had great luck with this winery. $10.
Wine 3: 2001 Recanati Merlot. With a vaguely Italian name and an Old World label, I thought this was from Italy or the south of France. But the region name at the bottom of the label said "Galilee". I picked up the bottle and read the back, only to discover that it was made in Israel. L'chaim! With firm tannins and a bright flavor, this would be a fun substitute for Chianti or other Italian wines. $16.
Wine 4: 2003 Penfolds Rawson's Retreat Merlot. This particular product line, at the bottom of the Penfolds offerings, can be fun, but I wasn't really happy with this wine. There was a musky aroma and fairly harsh tannins. Could have been an off bottle. $8.
Wine 5: 2002 Castle Rock Napa Valley Merlot. Great fruit flavors, soft tannins, everything that you're supposed to hate about California merlot, but I like it. $10.
Wine 6: 2001 Red Diamond Merlot. From Washington state, supposedly owned by Ste. Michelle. It's soft and rounded, easily drinkable. $11.
Wine 7: 2001 Crane Family Merlot. Great black cherry flavors, don't know if it's worth the price. $40.
Wine 8: 2000 Chappellet Napa Valley Merlot. Good plum flavors, strong tannins. Could probably age for a while longer. $27.
Wine 9: 2001 Pine Ridge Crimson Creek Merlot. Amazing balance, it's always nice to find a wine that feels perfectly put together. $30.
Wine 10: 2003 Bookwalter Columbia Valley Merlot. Great fruit on the nose, but not so much on the tongue. $25.
Wine 11: 2000 Chateau Jean Voisin St. Emilion Grand Cru 2000. (Couldn't find a website with good info in English.) And now we're back to Bordeaux. I loved this wine, I mean really loved it. You wouldn't think that it's a Merlot, as it's rich and complex. It has a great herbal, freshly chopped vegetation aroma, with good spice on the tongue. So nice, but out of my range. $40.