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Merlot: The underappreciated wine

Merlot: The underappreciated wine

Merlot , Pinot , Wine , Wine Tasting , Winery 🕔July 28, 2016

Some say it isn’t bold enough. Some say it is only good for blends. And some just heard Paul Giamatti declare that “If anyone orders merlot” he’s “leaving,” followed by a more emphatic and explicit statement about how he’s not drinking merlot.

This, of course, is from the 2004 film Sideways about two men who venture out on a bonding road trip through California’s wine country. Many believe that line from the movie is the reason merlot “lost it’s cool.” There was even a 2009 Sonoma State University study titled “The Sideways Effect: A Test for Changes in the Demand for Merlot and Pinot Noir Wines.” Though the study found that the movie Sideways had only a small negative impact on merlot consumption, the fact that the study was even done is evidence that at least some do not believe in what merlot has to offer.

And we’re here to say, you should believe in merlot.

Merlot, which has origins in the Bordeaux area of France, can be a delightful wine. In fact, in the 1980s and 1990s, merlot was the hottest wine around in California. As mass consumption increased, the quality of a lot of merlot trailed off, however. It slowly lost its popularity to the likes of Zinfandel, Pinot Noir and Cabernet. In the years since, and in the decade since Sideways was released, merlot has seemed to regain some of its footing.

According to The Sacramento Bee, merlot grapes are more present in California vineyards than pinot noir grapes. The Bee stated that “merlot accounted for more than 45,296 acres of plantings statewide in 2013, compared to 41,301 for pinot noir.”

Merlot is a versatile variety wine that can be used in blends. It is particularly good for Cabernet blends and can be found in a lot of high-end Bordeaux wines. But it can stand on its own as well. Merlot grapes fit right in with many different climates and soils. If grown properly, the grapes create a fruitful wine that delights. Merlot matures quickly and has a wide range of flavors with a smooth finish. If a red wine drinker does not like bold wines such as barbera, and thinks pinot noir is too light, a merlot is a nice common-ground wine that can be paired with numerous dishes. Its simplistic nature can turn some off, but for some, it provides just the right balance.

So we say, give merlot a second chance if you haven’t had it in a while.

At Mt. Vernon Winery, we are proud of our 2011 merlot that won a silver medal at the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. It is a classic merlot with a cedar box and tobacco nuance with a ripe blackberry finish. It is a unique wine and only 308 cases were made.

Come by for a tasting to try it out!

To view our full selection of wines, click here.

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