Last summer we took a look at Marilyn Merlot from Napa, a wine that's arguably good value for its middle-$20s price as a sipping Merlot, but that's snapped up, mostly, by investors hoping to take advantage of the celebrity label's track record for appreciation in value thanks to collectors who'd rather own a bottle than open it.
A small image of the label with the overlay is featured below (in our Graphics Edition). To deter objections, I won't include the peeled version in this E-mail bulletin, but if you'd like to check it out - for educational purposes only, of course! - I've placed a photo of it online at
The original image, by the way, ran as the foldout center page in the inaugural edition of Playboy magazine in 1953, and it must have seemed mighty racy by the standards of the time. Some might say that it still does.
But how about the wine behind the label? Is this Napa red blend worthy of a $200 price tag without its celebrity hook? At the equivalent of $100 for a standard bottle, that places it in competitive territory, jousting against such worthies as Ridge Monte Bello Cabernet or Chateau Cos d'Estournel.
Bottom line, I accepted a trade sample (a special 750ml bottle, not a magnum) from Nova Wines, the producers of Marilyn, making an exception to my usual rule about not accepting freebies because that's the only way I'm going to be sampling this stuff. Opened in a non-blind setting and tasted both analytically and afterward with food, I'll put it this way: It's a competitive high-end Napa Bordeaux-style blend, fruity and well-balanced and complex, blending Cabernet fruit and Napa eucalyptus. It's not a laugher at this price. But if I were standing in the wine shop with a full wallet and a hankering to enjoy an excellent wine with dinner tonight - or five years down the road - I think I'd pick the Cos or the Monte Bello first.
As an investment collectible, who can say? Marilyn Merlot has a fairly impressive track record for gaining value over time, with the inaugural 1985 vintage going for $3,800 at the winery, and all vintages before 1990 selling for four-figure price tags. The Velvet Collection, which comes only in magnums packaged in velvet-lined wood presentation boxes, is a relatively recent innovation, and secondary-market prices on Wine-Searcher.com are currently topping out only around $300. But give it time, I say, if your idea of a good investment involves sitting on wine that you'll never open and enjoy.
(For the record, to license the starlet's name and image on wine bottles, Nova Wines pays royalties on sales to the Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute in New York and Los Angeles and the Anna Freud Centre in London.)
Marilyn 2004 Napa Valley Red Wine "The Velvet Collection" ($200/magnum)
This is a very dark reddish-purple wine, shading to black at the center. With distinct blackcurrant and eucalyptus scents, the Cabernet Sauvignon seems dominant over the Merlot, although the blend is a nearly balanced 54% Cab, 45% Merlot. It's a big, mouth-filling wine, showing concentrated fruit and mouth-watering acidity, with smooth tannins present but very much in the background, and it Carries its 14.6% alcohol well. Despite the "pop" label, this is a serious Napa red. It went well on its own and as partner with a hearty stew-like Italian beef dish. (Jan. 15, 2007)
FIND THIS WINE ONLINE:
You may have seen us featured in GQ magazine, The Wall Street Journal, New Jersey Monthly and elsewhere. WineLibrary.com features a huge collection of top wines from around the world, great gifts and accessories, a daily video blog (WineLibraryTV), huge selection of futures (including red hot 2005 Bordeaux at incredible pricing) and much, much more!
Search our quick loading/high speed database of the hottest new wines from California, France, Italy, Australia, New Zealand, Spain, Germany, Austria, South America and more. Join our e-mail service and get an early heads up when wines like Bryant, Harlan, Dominus and others arrive!
Bottom line, we offer the lowest prices, the largest selection, lightning fast shipments and the greatest customer service in the industry! WineLibrary.com is your one-stop shop for everything wine ... so what are you waiting for? Log on to WineLibrary.com today!
For our Free Shipping Item of the Day, log on to http://free.winelibrary.com!
TALK ABOUT WINE ONLINE:
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. I'll respond personally to the extent that time and volume permit.
PRINT OUT TODAY'S ARTICLE
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 email@example.com, 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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2007