Bartholomew Park Merlot Sonoma 2006: Fresh Mint @bartparkwine

20130111-185023.jpgMost people don’t think of mint and wine in the same sentence, but this Merlot from our friends at Bartholomew Park in just that.  Of course it tastes like wine, but the finish is fresh mint and crisp.

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Zellerbach 2007 California Merlot: Smokey Cherry & Smooth @McNabWines @TotalWine

There are many folks who shun Merlot in favor of Cabernet Sauvignon and other varietals.  I’m not one of them and actually prefer Merlot in many cases to a big Cab…in fact there are some Merlots that can stand up to their big brother – the Cab Sauv any day.  That discussion is for another time.

Last night we finished off this smooth bottle of Zellerbach Merlot which is a very food friendly wine.  It’s not a cherry bomb, but definitely has some fruit and vanilla and a lightly smokey finish.  I picked it up for $9.99 at Total Wine and it’s a great deal for Tuesday night or any other night of the week.  Cheers.

Freemark Abbey Napa Valley Merlot 2003 – Aged Nicely and Ready Now!

I picked this up tonight at my local “Fine Wine & Good Spirits” store…or the state store for those who live in the fine wine control state of Pennsylvania.  For $15, this is a great deal and the oldest Merlot I’ve ever had (8yrs).  After some time in the decanter, this Merlot from the well known Napa vintner held up nicely.  It’s a smooth Merlot with a deep purple hue and a cherry cedar flavor to match.  If you’re in PA – grab a bottle and let me know what you think.

Paloma 2006 Merlot = Absolute Perfection

I’m a bit different in my perception of wine.  Since I’ve visited so many of the vineyards that I enjoy, I tend to associate the wine to the experience I have with the vineyard visit, the people, and the back-story of each wine.  In this case, we visited Barb Richards 2 years ago and while we stood on her deck, she told us about how they farmed their vineyard and the history of Spring Mountain.

Her Paloma Merlot is just perfect.  The flavor is a smooth vanilla/blackberry/coffee with little tannin and a solid balance.  It will go well with anything and nothing all at the same time.  Barb was such an endearing host as she explained the roots of her Merlot and the pride which goes into it.  As I drink it, that effort and pride is palpable and reminds me of the first taste I had as we stood in her dining room.  My only regret is that we only bought one bottle; that will change on our next visit for sure.  If you’re in Napa, email her in advance and schedule a visit – it’s one of the must-do’s in the valley!

Bartholomew Park Desnudos Merlot 2006 – Spear-a-Minty @bartparkwine

As I’ve mentioned in the past, Bartholomew Park is one of our must-stops when we’re anywhere near Napa or Sonoma.  While we first went there for their Zin, their other wines are solid as well.  Tonight, we enjoyed the 2006 Desnudos Merlot which left a very fresh spearmint taste on my palate.  Sure, there were other lightness to it, with some predictable vanilla and stone fruit, but the mint was really catchy (and I love mint), and provided a nice balance.  Cheers to a Merlot with some backbone!

Rutherford Grove Estate Merlot 2004: worth the trip to Napa (alone) @NapaVintners, @LegendaryNapa

Rutherford Grove is one of our (newer) favorite stops on our trips to Napa.  This family owned winery produces many wonderful estate wines and this 2004 Merlot is a great example.  Its blackberry, cassis and vanilla goodness comes through and gives Merlot a great name – – many people think Merlot is a boring wine, but there are many to try which clearly prove this is not the case and this is one such wine.

Luna Vineyards Howell Mountain Merlot 2004: WOW!!!

We had this Luna Howell Mountain Merlot last night with dinner and it was INCREDIBLE!  Some folks shy away from Merlot thinking it is a second fiddle grape to Cabernet, but I’m telling you (if you’re one of them) that you’re missing out.  This was one of our oldest bottles which has aged well and was silky, with the requisite fruit and cocoa mixed in.  My only regret is that we only bought one bottle.

Bartholomew Park Desnudos Merlot 2006 – Just Brilliant!

Some of you may know Bartholomew Park for their incredible Zin, but don’t let that keep you from trying their other selections.  Last night, the wife and I enjoyed the 2006 Desnudos Merlot and it reminded us of our last trip to Napa/Sonoma…and our fun visit to BartPark.  If you go, you absolutely must stop in and not only taste their portfolio of offerings, but also take the time to learn about the genesis of each wine.  Each visit is a fun experience and I’m reminded of it when we open the bottle.  This big merlot has some cola undertones and big fruit to go with it.  It’s not overly spicy, but rather has some balance as well.  For $32, you really can’t go wrong.

Wolffer Reserve Merlot 2004 – It’s CranEarthy!

If a cranberry went on a camping trip and made wine, this is the product that would result.  When we poured this Wolffer Merlot from Long Island, it looked like cranberry juice with its deep garnet color.  On the nose initially, it even smelled like it.  However, once it breathed a bit, that all changed.  The fruit subsided and was replaced by a very earthy, even mushroomy smell reminiscent of the old-world style wines.  The palate was smooth, and the tartness of the cranberry was evident, but also had some spicy notes as well.  This is certainly an intriguing Merlot and much different than the New-World ones we are used to drinking.

Trinchero Family Vineyards 2007 Merlot Chicken Ranch Vineyard Rutherford

We have made a stop at the Trinchero Family Vineyards tasting room each of our last two visits to Napa.  For those of you not familiar with the Trinchero Family, they are the owners of many wine labels that you may have seen and range from inexpensive, mass produced wine (Sutter Home) to the vineyard-select wines offered at the Family Vineyards location.  They have found a real sweet spot as this wine at $35 is an incredible value.  It’s a medium bodied Merlot that we enjoyed with our dinner last night at a local byob (look for another post soon on that) which has the smooth mouth feel and hints of clove and cinnamon.  For anyone who doubts Merlot, this is a great one to try and you’ll be hooked just as we are.