Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A Myriad of Merlots

I do love them and held true to them even when they were knocked “sideways” by Miles Raymond, the moody self-sabotaging wine aficionado character from the movie Sideways. I stayed faithful and never wavered when a group of writing peers from northern California skewered and flamed me for drinking a wine they felt was merely worthy of blending. Was it my fault they couldn’t get past their own wimpy California Merlots and not realizing that all Merlots were not created equal? Should I have felt guilty for having world class Merlots from the State of Washington all around me and so easily accessible?

Lately, I’ve been keeping an eye out for quality Merlots from Walla Walla that also come with an affordable price tag, so the lover of this little Bordeaux-influenced grape can get the most Bordeaux-Walla-Walla-Bing-Bang for their buck.

Basel Cellars Estate Merlot - 2006: If you want a bold Merlot that you can sink your teeth into along with that big piece of beef on your plate, then this is the Merlot. This Estate grown Merlot was aged 18 months in 37% new American and French oak. An aromatic nose of a cigar humidor and notes of vanilla. Lots of supple dark fruit in the glass that is completed with a dark cocoa finish. This wine could definitely be cellared for about five years. A Gold Medal winner of the 2009 Denver International Wine Competition. Retail Price: $28/bottle

Skylite Cellars Estate Merlot - 2005: I first tasted this wine at Taste Washington in Spokane with Cheryl Hodges co-owner of Skylite Cellars. It was their first vintage using 1oo% of their own fruit from their Skylite Estate Vineyard. Aged two years in new American oak. The nose was lightly smoky reminiscent of the autumn air and the palate reminded me of milk chocolate cherry cordials I really enjoyed this Merlot and thought it showed the fruit of Walla Walla quite well. Another Merlot that could be cellared, if you wish. Price: $26/bottle.

Nelms Road Merlot - 2007: Nelm's Road is the second label for Woodward Canyon. What I enjoy about the Nelms Road label is I always know I'm getting a quality wine made with quality fruit. A nose of leather and vanilla leads your palate to big bold flavors of black fruit and cherry. These wines are earthy and with the right elements, they can be cellared for about five years, but equally drinkable as a young wine. I say the price is right to enjoy now and often. Price: $21/bottle.

Revelry Vintners Columbia Valley Merlot - 2006: Revelry Vintners is a new winery at the Walla Walla Airport district. This Merlot was an easy sipper and would pair quite well with the basics such as hamburgers or upscale it a bit with salmon, of course saving extra for a Merlot redux sauce. Big berry and cherry flavors with just a slight touch of oak and a little spice to let you know you are sipping a Merlot. Definitely a young drinkable wine and very easy on the pocketbook. Price: $15/bottle.

In the movie, Miles Raymond got his tighty-whiteys in a bunch yelling outside the restaurant, "If anyone orders Merlot, I'm leaving. I am NOT drinking any fucking Merlot!"

And to everyone who shares the same sentiments, don't let the door hit you in the bung hole on your way out.


Anonymous said...


I absolutely LOVE Washington merlot. There are a few CA bottles that never cease to seduce me (Pride, for one) but WA impresses at most any price point. Love the post, thanks for tooting the horn for merlot!


Chris said...

Well said Catie.

I had a Merlot predudice and had never seen Sideways, before moving to WA, now it's in my cabinet proudly beside the Cabs and Syrahs.

My favorite (so far) is http://www.tasawikvineyards.com/wineDetails.cfm?win_pk=2

Grown in Walla Walla!!


wild walla walla wine woman said...

Hi Chris,
Thanks for checking in. I am happy to hear you have seen the "error of your Merlot prejudiced ways."

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