Continuing the discussion I started on Monday about our Wine Tasting 101 topic on Merlot this month, I realize that the memorable insult in Sideways had such an impact that I almost feel a need to apologize when I post a Merlot tasting report.
After all, a big part of being an open-minded wine enthusiast is to question the conventional wisdom and, when confronted with a wine rule or custom, check it out. While some wine rules ("don't sip good wine from a coffee mug") make more sense than others ("don't drink red wine with fish"), experience remains the best teacher. An appropriate skepticism about the things you're told can pay dividends ... in wine as in life.
So, putting the character Miles's snarky comment about Merlot out of my head, I opened a relatively modest California Merlot the other night, basing my choice on a trustworthy wine merchant's advice ... and enjoyed a pleasant surprise. The 2002 "Keltie Brook" Merlot from California's North Coast (a catch-all appellation for fruit from Napa, Sonoma, Mendocino and Lake counties) might not qualify as a sought-after "cult" item, but this second label from the MacRostie winery in Napa, made from purchased fruit, boasts balance and a good acidic structure that lifts it well above the soft, plushy "chocolate-covered-cherry" character that makes mass-market Merlot popular with everyone but wine geeks.
MacRostie 2002 "Keltie Brook" North Coast Merlot ($14)
Dark blackish-purple, garnet edge. Plums and cherries, pleasant fresh fruit on the nose and palate, nicely balanced by snappy acidity. Well-made, nothing complex, but balance and acidity make it a much better table wine than your average Merlot. (June 7, 2006)
FOOD MATCH: Just about any pork, veal or poultry dish would do; it was fine with pork country-style spareribs scented with fennel seed in a pilaf-style dish with orzo.
VALUE: Not at all unreasonable at $14, which was a dollar below the winery price.
WHEN TO DRINK: Not really meant for aging, but it's not going anywhere in a year or two on the wine rack.
FIND THIS WINE ONLINE:
TALK ABOUT WINE ONLINE:
To browse and participate in the overall Merlot discussions in Wine Tasting 101, start with this forum topic, and feel free to post a reply at any point in the "thread."
Today's article is cross-posted in our Netscape WineLovers Community, where we also welcome comments and questions.
To contact me by E-mail, write email@example.com. I'll respond personally to the extent that time and volume permit.
PRINT OUT TODAY'S ARTICLE
Winebuys.com: Irresistible Deals on Our Latest Arrivals
Your 1st order SHIPS FedEx for FREE!
Shop Top Summer Picks
Browse Wine Under $15
Shop New Arrivals
All wines always up to 50% off
To subscribe or unsubscribe from The 30 Second Wine Advisor, change your E-mail address, or for any other administrative matters, please use the individualized hotlink found at the end of your E-mail edition. If this is not practical, contact me by E-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, including the exact E-mail address that you used when you subscribed, so I can find your record.
We do not use our E-mail list for any other purpose and will never give or sell your name or E-mail address to anyone. I welcome feedback, suggestions, and ideas for future columns. To contact me, please send E-mail to email@example.com
All the wine-tasting reports posted here are consumer-oriented. In order to maintain objectivity and avoid conflicts of interest, I purchase all the wines I rate at my own expense in retail stores and accept no samples, gifts or other gratuities from the wine industry.
Friday, June 9, 2006