Really, it’s okay- it’s Merlot

Good day to you, Feastlings.

I know you all saw Sideways. I did too. And Miles had some reasoning behind his diatribes against Merlot: ten and fifteen years ago, there was a lot of insipid Merlot out there, and there still is. Still, Miles taught us all a nasty habit. Working at Feast, I can’t begin to count how many of our guests dismiss Merlot out of hand, simply because it’s Merlot. For years after Sideways, diners everywhere were ordering Pinot Noir with the same blind loyalty with which they’d previously been ordering Merlot, and Malbec seems to have moved in next to occupy that “go-to” spot on the red-wine-by-the-glass list. This weekend, we’re here to shake either a finger or a fist and remind people that there is nothing intrinsically wrong with Merlot; in fact, it’s a remarkably versatile grape that can offer power and elegance, richness and subtlety all at once. And if you really paid attention to Sideways, you’ll have noted that Miles’ coveted bottle of Cheval Blanc is half Merlot, with not a drop of Pinot Noir in it. If you’re going to take his advice, take all of it. The tasting is this Sunday, February 24th at 3:30 pm, and $30 gets you tastes of all six wines with our customary pairings. Call 326-9363 to hold your place.

Really, it’s okay- it’s Merlot

2010 Cannonball Merlot, Sonoma $17.00

The 2010 Cannonball Sonoma County Merlot is a gorgeous ruby red color. Aromas of sweet earth and blackberries mix with chocolate-mocha nuances. The nose alsopresents a distinctive youthful “fresh walnut” Merlot varietal character. On the palette this wine is full-bodied and silky displaying ripe cherry,

chocolate, and spicy red fruit flavors.

2010 Independent Producers “Bacchus” Merlot, Columbia Valley $14.00

The Independent Producers Merlot refocuses the attention of the drinker to a varietal that gives reason to its dominance in the world. With minimal winemaking intervention, Merlot’s ability to display grace, some say better than that of Pinot Noir, is unmatched. The world’s greatest Merlots come from the Northern Hemisphere. Site specific, this wine derives from the Bacchus vineyard, known for wines of approachability and acidity, and the serious appeal of its condition is wonderfully expressed. Independent Producers is a project directed by Christophe Hedges, bringing to the table some of the more compelling Columbia Valley AZA vineyard sites.

2010 Parcel 41 Merlot, Napa $22.00

The name Parcel 41 is derived from the original agriculture land assessor’s plot number for the winery’s ranch in Napa Valley. Their limited production Merlot is enormously rich, ripe and concentrated, showing layers of blackberry, currant and mocha. Merlot grapes are typically more difficult to grow than Cabernet Sauvignon, which is why the best Merlots are often more expensive. Therefore the goal with Parcel 41 was to make a Merlot that is supple and elegant, yet still has the structure, depth and richness found in more expensive offerings.

2010 Viña Cobos “Felino” Merlot by Paul Hobbs, Mendoza $38.00

A beautiful, dark ruby-hued Merlot that opens with layers of red cherry tones and subtle white pepper and clove. The palate reveals red delicious apple over cherry and red licorice, underlined by graphite and subtle tobacco notes. Boldly structured for a Merlot, with firm, ripe tannins.

2008 Miner Family “Stagecoach Vineyard” Merlot, Napa $43.00

Challenged by the rocky volcanic soils of this mountainous vineyard site, the vines at Stagecoach produce fruit of extraordinary quality and intensity. This meticulously farmed property is handpicked according to Miner Family’s winemaker’s specifications. Loaded with rich ripe fruit and spice notes with touches of tasty oak, this Merlot has firm yet fine tannins and a long finish.

2009 Château de Fonbel Saint-Emilion Grand Cru $24.00

“Made by Ausone’s perfectionist owner, Alain Vauthier, Fonbel is a sleeper of the vintage in 2009. Raspberry and black currant notes intermixed with incense, camphor and a note of crushed wet/rock steeliness offer up a complex set of aromatics. That is followed by a dense ruby/purple wine with excellent texture, fruit extract and an overall harmony among its various elements. Drink it over the next decade or more.” —Robert Parker

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