“Poor Merlot. Maligned by Paul Giamatti’s character, Miles Raymond, in the 2004 movie Sideways, sales of Merlot actually sagged for a few years afterward. Miles exalted Pinot Noir and sales of that variety soared. Go figure. The movie was entertaining, but it’s unfortunate that pop culture sometimes affects our world so dramatically. Merlot still carries the stigma of being likened to ‘Cabernet Lite’. This unfortunate calumny comes from wannabe connoisseurs, who have taken a wisp of truth and made unwarranted observations to extend it.
“Merlot is one of the grapes included in the ‘Bordeaux varietals’ category. Historically, there have been others, but today the five red grapes native to that part of southwestern France are: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. As in Bordeaux, American wineries may combine any-to-all of these grapes in producing a blend they think will find favor with the customer. Generally, such combinations will feature Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot most prominently. In order for an American wine to define itself as just one of these distinct grape varieties on its label, it must contain at least 75% of that component.
“This week’s ‘Pick’ is comprised of Merlot (78%), Cabernet Sauvignon (15%), Malbec (4%), Cabernet Franc (2%) and Petit Verdot (1%). The 2014 Dry Creek Vineyard Merlot shows cherry and herbal aromas that precede berry and cherry flavors in the mouth. There is a complexity that’s likely the result of judicious blending of its five varietal components. We found this wine bright, vibrant and well-balanced, too (sorry, Miles).”
Food Affinity: “The 2014 Merlot from Dry Creek Vineyard is substantial enough to pair with almost any dish you’d normally like with red wine. After tasting for this week’s analysis, your reviewer poured the balance of it with a standing rib roast done in the Weber. It was splendid.”