In the immortal words of Miles, the dyspeptic pinot partisan of the 2004 movie Sideways, “I am not drinking fucking merlot!” At the time, I agreed (at least regarding California). It was a wakeup call to action — sales slumped — and the industry responded. Today it’s a different story. Here are some recent favorites out of about a dozen tasted.
2010 Parcel 41 Napa Valley Merlot: Lively and fresh with black cherry, and currant, smoothing out at the end with a whiff of cedar. CA redeemed. ($18-$19)
2010 Columbia Crest Horse Heaven Hills H3 Merlot: Washington leads the New World charge. This has great “grip” and body with black berry notes and, again, a hint of cedar — a bargain for the price. ($13-15)
2009 Mercer Estates Columbia Valley Merlot: Some renegade components such as tobacco, mocha, and spice underneath raspberry, black cherry, and dark plum, but ultimately a good mouthful. ($18-20)
2009 Bordeaux Origami Grand Vin de Bordeaux (80 percent merlot, 20 percent cabernet franc): Typically French but brighter and cleaner with pretty cherry, black currant, and a whisper of mint. Even better the next day. ($14-$15)
2010 Lapostolle Casa Merlot, Rapel Valley: Initially simple but a good intro to Chilean style with cherry, some smokiness, and developed complexity with decanting. ($12-$13)