It’s here! #MerlotMe once again has me melting for one of my fave wines – Merlot! Merlot took a beating back in 2004 after that movie “Sideways” came out, after Paul Giamatti’s character said, “I’m not drinking any fucking Merlot.” Oh, Paul … you could not have known the impact that line would have on Merlot. After that, all anyone wanted was Pinot Noir, about which the character positively rhapsodized in the movie. So, yes, it’s true – the Pinot Noir category took off like a rocket, and no one wanted poor Merlot. Except me! I’ve always wanted Merlot because I love it, for its cherry-berry, mocha-y goodness and it’s “not quite as heavy-bodied as Cab” character.
I have friends who still say they don’t like Merlot and to them, I say, “Bullshit!” (The same goes to people who say “I don’t like Chardonnay.” Oh really? You really don’t like Chablis? Cuz that is Chardonnay, my friend.” Don’t get me started.)
I received three delicious samples from St. Supery in Napa Valley, J. Lohr in Napa Valley and L’Ecole No. 41 in Walla Walla, WA. The #MerlotMe campaign in 2013, when a few Napa Valley wineries banded together to get more people to discover the wonders of Merlot. They now send samples to bloggers like me, coordinate retail and restaurant promotions and generally create a lot of excitement about magnificent Merlot. And here is a link to a slew of special offers and promotions to make it even easier to make room for Merlot!
Five Fun Facts About Merlot
- The word “merlot” in French means “little blackbird.”
- Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon actually share a parent – Cabernet Franc – which is why Merlot does indeed share some characteristics with Cabernet Sauvignon! (Merlot’s “mother” is an obscure grape called Magdeleine Noire des Charentes.)
- Merlot adapts to climates near and far and is grown in California, Washington, Chile, Argentina, Italy, Spain, Australia, New Zealand, and of course, France, where it is the most-grown grape in the entire country!
- Merlot is often confused for Cabernet Sauvignon in tastings!
- At the end of “Sideways,” Miles cracks open a prized bottle of Château Petrus and drinks it from a paper cup. Château Petrus is mostly … MERLOT (and which sells for upwards of $2000 a bottle).
St. Supery 2016 Napa Valley, Rutherford Estate Merlot ($50 SRP): Hoh-lee Merlot, is this a gorgeous wine! It’s rich and silky and I LOVE IT. Plum cake, black cherry, mocha, earth, a little cola thing going on. Definitely fruit-driven – very New World-style. Amazing use of oak – it rounds out the wine but isn’t overt. It’s big, powerful, ripe fresh and beautiful. If you like big, assertive – yet elegant – wines (and who doesn’t?) this is FOR YOU! This is the wine that made me say, “Yo, Cabernet Lovers – beep beep – get on the Merlot bus, because you are missing out!”
I paired this wine with pot roast – which isn’t really very photogenic (so brown!) and it was magic. It would also be divine with any type of steak or lamb or even a burger with grilled onions. Yuh-mee!
L’Ecole 41 2017 Columbia Valley Merlot ($25 SRP) L’Ecole No. 41 was one of Walla Walla’s original wineries, founded in 1983 – in an old school house. This wine opens with a big pop of black cherry backed up with cola, dried rose petal, and a little mocha. Bright and expressive, it spent 18 months in small oak barrels (which kind of minimizes the oak influence), only 30% of which were new. So it’s kind of Old-World style, echoing the terroir, while still celebrating the fruit.
I really liked it! And yes, I had it with left-over pot roast (that pot roast was huge!) But you know what else I had it with? These crazy charred green beans with garlic chips and capers. Jeez louise, I’ve already made this four times since I got the September issue of Bon Appetit magazine – I can’t stop eating them! They are not too spicy and the L’Ecole 41 Merlot was quite delicious with them! Recipe is here.
J. Lohr 2018 Los Osos Paso Robles Merlot ($15) J. Lohr makes wines in Napa Valley, as well as Monterery and Paso Robles. The Los Osos Merlot gets its name from a type of soil, specifically the Los Osos Series soils in Paso Robles, which are ideal for growing Merlot. This wine has a fair amount of Malbec in it, which brings brightness and I can’t wait to pair it with a mushroom dish, like sautéed mushrooms and onions on grilled bread.
You get the cherries and a bit of mocha/cocoa, but also some nice florals in the background – like jasmine or hibiscus, all wrapped up in a silky texture for a magnificent Merlot experience.
I believe more Merlot samples are enroute, so watch for an update to this post. Still thirsty? See more posts below from my fellow bloggers, and jump onto Twitter on Oct. 10 at 10 a.m. Central time, when we’ll be getting our Merlot mojo on! Use #winepw and #merlotme and join in!
- 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?”
- Jennifer at Vino Travels shares “Fall is Here! Warm up with a Merlot and Pot Roast Pairing”
- 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”