Tuesday, March 14, 2006

No Merlot?

Have you heard of the website No Merlot? If you haven't, check it out. This site is also for sale. Their reason for "No Merlot" is based on the movie, "Sideways." The famous Merlot scene takes us to Jack and Miles having dinner with a couple of women they picked up:

Jack: "And if they wanna drink merlot, we're drinkin’ merlot."
Miles: "No. If anybody orders merlot, I'm leaving. I am not drinking any f#%&ing merlot!"

The wine peeps at "No Merlot" feels that Mile's aversion to Merlot is well-founded. They feel that Merlot, or more specifically, American Merlot is generally bland and flabby, lacking any varietal character or structure. Phhhhttt!!! Hey boys and girls - it's obviously you haven't tried any Merlot from Washington State! Or maybe they have and that is why they are selling their "No Merlot" site?

The unfortunate thing is, as fun as the movie Sideways was, it did an injustice to current Merlot sales and might possibly harm future Pinot Noir sales. Miles waxed poetry about his favorite wine, Pinot Noir. Of course, the sales soared! Unfortunately, this also meant that the casual wine drinker was missing out on some fantastic Merlot and was probably picking up some cheap Pinot Noir (instead of the beauties from the Willamette area in Oregon) at their local grocery store and were left wondering, "What is so great about Pinot Noir?"

The irony - - while Miles was cursing Merlot, he babbled on about the virtues of Chateau Petrus, one of the world's most expensive wines, which also just happens to be made up of 95% Merlot! Chateau Petrus produces about 3,000 cases of wine in an average year. Newly released bottles are usually offered as futures for around $500-750 a bottle, and later vintages will fetch more than $1,000 a bottle.

Listening to this character Miles rant and rave about hating Merlot, I kept thinking to myself - he hasn't tasted Washington Merlots. Pomerol, where Petrus is located sits on the 45th parallel of latitude. If you follow that latitude west to North America and across the United States, you will discover that the Walla Walla Valley is just to it's north. The soils of the Walla Walla Valley are similar to those of Pomerol - deposits of gravel and clay. Washington state grape vines also get two more hours of sunlight per day than those vines in California. Those extra hours of sun intensifies color, acids and makes for perfect ripening of the fruit. Unlike the more jammier Merlots of the south state, Washington Merlots are more food friendlier. Bolder and more earthier wine due to to the soil from the region.

In January 2006 issue of Decanter, they recommended the following Walla Walla Merlots:

Leonetti Cellar 2003, Lecole #41 Seven Hills Vineyard 2003, Northstar - Walla Walla Valley 2001 (note: Northstar only produces Merlot), Pepperbridge Winery 2002, and Woodward Canyon, 2002 .

For best value, their recommendations are:

Seven Hills Vineyard, 2002 - $30, Walla Walla Vintners, 2003 - $28, Ash Hollow, 2003 - $24, Beresan Winery, 2003 - $29, Forgeron Cellars, 2002 - $27, Lowden Hills, 2002 - $24, and Stephenson Cellars, 2002 - $28.

It's important to say that the "No Merlot" also has a website No Chardonnay. Again, it is based on the movie Sideways and here is why they are not drinking any Chardonnay:

Jack: “I thought you hated chardonnay.”
Miles: "No, no, no. I just don't generally like the way they manipulate Chardonnay in California. Too much oak and secondary malolactic fermentation."

Finally - I couldn't agree more!

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