To Merlot or Not to Merlot

mariaFor those of you who have have read my first article outlining the PMS of wines, the "M" stands for Merlot. Thanks to the movie Sideways, Merlot has garnered a very negative reputation. If you've seen the movie you're familiar with the lead character Miles Raymond's (played by Paul Giamatti) disdain for everything Merlot and a love for all things Pinot Noir. In fact, US sales of Merlot dropped dramatically while Pinot Noir sales increased by 20% following the release of the movie in January of 2005. I was shopping in a small wine shop where the proprietor could hardly keep his Pinot Noirs stocked. Are we that easily coerced by Hollywood?

Merlot is one of the allowed five blending grapes in France's Bordeaux region. On the right bank of Bordeaux, Merlot is the primary grape in its wines. You will not find a bottle of Chateau Petrus, made almost entirely of Merlot, for under $1000. The 2008 vintage receiving a 98-100 point rating from Robert Parker, is now selling for approximately $3000 per bottle. Did I mention that Chateau Petrus was owned by a woman, Madame Loubats, by the end of World War II and is still partly owned by her neice? Putting Petrus aside, Merlot-based wines can be wonderful when made well or horrible otherwise.

Merlot is a difficult grape to grow because of its thin skin. It is medium-bodied and has soft tannins. Some typical Merlot aromas include berries, cherry, plum and currant. It can be spicy, floral and herbaceous. Merlot goes well with lighter dishes as in chicken, pork and pastas. It works well for larger events where it will compliment a variety of food and the palates of your guests. Some of my favorite Merlots are from Duckhorn, Selene, Shafer and Twomey.

Back to Sideways. Miles finally opened his most coveted bottle of 1961 Cheval Blanc, a Bordeaux wine from the right bank, at a diner and proceeds to drink it with a burger and fries. The irony in the movie is that Cheval Blanc is a Merlot and Cabernet Franc blend, both grapes Miles detests. So much for Hollywood!

Last modified onTuesday, 19 March 2013 15:52

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