Wednesday, September 01, 2004
WWWBW - New World Merlot
the winner - Reynolds Vineyard 2001 Merlot
Today is World Wide Wine Blogging Wednesday – at least for the next 37 minutes. This is Lenn of LennDevours idea – another communal blogging event modeled after Alberto’s IMBB. The theme for this first WWWBW is new world Merlots (excluding those from the US). I wasn’t going to bother to post, because I have been so busy and was having trouble mustering up some enthusiasm to write this up, but I started reading some of the others and now I’m really curious if someone else tried the same ones I did and what they thought…
I bought two Merlots to try. I didn’t like the first one I tried at all, so I decided to get another and compare them. I know nothing about wine and in fact have fairly limited experience drinking it. I rarely drink any wine and up until a couple of years ago I had hardly ever had red wine. That changed when I went to Tuscany last October. We opened one, two and sometimes three different bottles of red wine each evening with dinner. I didn’t relish them all, but many I did, and I finally came to appreciate red wine.
I am still very much a wine novice, though, and am totally flummoxed by the vocabulary used to describe the experience of it. In fact, I can’t quite understand how people smell and taste the things they claim to smell and taste in wine – cedar, leather, tar!?
I approached this originally with quite a bit of enthusiasm. I invited friends over for dinner and explained that I would be serving Merlot (which they would have to taste) and later writing about it for WWWBW. Unfortunately, a family emergency called my friends out of town and I was left on my own for the tasting. I found a site that had a so called wine tasting course. I decided to sit down at the computer with my wine as I read through the course and take notes with the hopes that the course would enlighten me and allow me to talk the talk. No such luck – the course was about as disappointing as my first Merlot.
The first Merlot that I tried was a Montes Merlot Special Cuvée 2003 from the Colchagua Valley in Chile. I found this review: “87 PTS WILFRED WONG. Smooth and textured, the pleasing '03 Montes Special Cuvee Merlot is a dandy of a wine; ripe and easy with a hint of wood; excellent with charred broiled pork chops.” The label described it as “An elegant and refined wine with a marked fruitiness almost irresistible to Merlot lovers. Strong, spicy black pepper full of harmony and soft on the palate. Aging in American oak gives structure and finesse that will also permit short term cellaring.”
The wine was deeply colored and almost opaque. I sniffed it and groped for words to describe its aroma. All I could come up with was “smells like red wine”. To me the wine was sharply flavored and unpleasant. When I later sipped it alongside the second Merlot, I could tell there was a big difference but struggled to describe it. The other was obviously fruity in comparison, but what was this one? The word I came up with – perhaps totally inappropriate, and according to my spell checker, not even a word – was “resiny”. Maybe in wine-speak this would be pine.
The second bottle I tried was a Reynolds Vineyards 2001 Merlot from New South Wales, Australia. The bottle says “This velvety Merlot offers enticing cherry, vanilla, and toasted herb aromas with plush cherry and plum flavours.” This wine was a much more attractive color and had a definite fruity (but still dry) taste. While the other Merlot left my tongue tingling, this one left my throat feeling warm – which I much prefer! While I would probably still gravitate to an Italian wine over a Merlot, I think I will enjoy the rest of this second bottle.
Must run – I’ve got to catch my forty winks before another long day tomorrow!
the also-ran - Montes Merlot Special Cuvée 2003