Californians are obsessed with Cabernet Sauvignon, but what about Merlot? I’m just going to say it, I love Merlot. As a girl who tends to favor a lighter red like a Pinot Noir or Gamay to a bigger, bolder red like a Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot is my jam. The perfect middle ground red that’s easy drinking with moderate tannins, well-rounded acidity, and straightforward fruit flavors.
Merlot is the most widely planted grape in Bordeaux, France, yet it seems as though this timeless variety is so rarely buzzed about anymore. At least where I’m located in the central coast of California, I don’t see or hear a lot about Merlot in wine country. I know Merlot is grown more up north in Napa and Sonoma. Though I know of a handful of wineries in Paso Robles that produce a Merlot, in my opinion, nobody is talking enough about Merlot anymore. Or maybe I’m just not talking to the right people, which considering my social life lately seems to be the case! Could the infamous Sideways quote REALLY be responsible for killing the popularity of this luscious wine in California?
This Bordeaux varietal definitely needs a better rep, at least over here on the west coast. Merlot is a wine remarkable enough to stand on its own – smooth, luscious, and less of a punch in the face than Cabernet Sauvignon. Plus, this lovely wine pairs incredibly well with a variety of foods including, all things oven-roasted, turkey, chicken, pork, winter salads, herbed potatoes, and more!
I recently savored a bottle of 2013 Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars Merlot from Napa Valley with my dad for one of our last dinners together before he headed back to Washington. A special meal with pops made all the more special by this marvelous bottle of wine!! We cooked oven-roasted red potatoes with garlic, parmesan, and parsley, along with a rotisserie chicken and a market greens salad with fresh dill and shallot vinaigrette. All flavors that made the unbelievably luscious Merlot sing even more!
Tasting Notes: 2013 Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars Merlot
- VERY smooth drinking, almost dangerously so
- Distinguished chocolate, cedar, and raspberry on the nose
- A hint of herbaceous qualities like dill and bay leaf
- More chocolate on the palate with fig, plum, cherry, and some barrel spice
- I would drink this wine again and again