Merlot wines are accessible and friendly

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Here is a twofer. A California Merlot, Gnarly Head 2019, scored 90 McD points and costs less than $ 11. Most of the time, GHead rates are in the mid-80s, McD. Longtime aficionados may remember that due to the plethora of wines available, I rarely write wines that I rate below 88 points unless there is a demand, or I think the possibility improvement in the cellar where the price is particularly favorable. It’s the three times. FYI, 2019 in much of California has been a great vintage. The spring rains replenished humidity and were followed by a long, sunny summer with some heat anomalies. Gnarly Head ’19 has aromas of Boysenberry, cherry, mocha, leather, some smoke but no smoky taste, and a hint of vanilla. Not as smooth as many Merlots, full bodied with good balance and a mixed palate of smoked meat, coffee and mocha that continues through its crisp finish. Those who love wine and desserts should try it with a dense chocolate cake with mocha frosting. Off scale. Also pairs well with Italian and sausage or beef on barbie. Château Souverain Merlot 2018, 11, 89 McD and Rodney Strong Sonoma Merlot 2019, $ 17, 90 McD are also excellent.

The 2004 film “Sideways” was done well in many ways. On the downside, he trashed the Merlot and the Cab Franc. Miles, well played by Paul Giamatti, went on Merlot and called Cab Franc tasteless. Connoisseurs moaned. Many less informed moviegoers have decided to “switch” to Pinot Noir and Cab, and that’s a shame. They missed the message that Merlot is accessible in its youth, while PN and Cab, in most cases, need cellaring to achieve drinkable balance. Few have noted that Miles’ favorite wine, the 1961 Chateau Cheval Blanc, is a blend of Merlot and Cab Franc, and that in fact most of the prominent Right Bank Bordeaux are mostly Merlot with a hint of Cab F, Cab S, Malbec and Petit Verdot. Here are some famous labels from the Right Bank: Petrus is the most famous, $ 4,200 / bottle; La Fleur $ 950, Ausone $ 950, Cheval Blanc $ 875, Le Pin $ 875. In a bad year, most have a rate of 94 or better, and their prices have risen more than inflation in all cases.

Recognizing that these are outside of most people’s price / pleasure range, buy the 2016 Chateau Pavie Macquin Grand Cru under $ 100, 94 McD. If you are patient, buy the 2019 Chateau De Pressac Grand Cru, around $ 30 gets 93 McD, ready 2026-40. Any vintage since 2015 is safe. Look for regional labels that read Pomerol or Saint-Emilion, 2016 or 2019, other lesser-known right bank areas where Petit Château is found. Among others, Côtes de Castillon, Lalande de Pomerol, Fronsac Canon-Fronsac and Côtes de Bourg, one of the oldest wine regions in France; he is known for Château Roc de Cambes. The 2016, 93 McD, is around $ 65. Notes read black cherry, truffle, chocolate, tobacco, liquorice, smoky nose; juicy, full-bodied fruit backed by earthy notes, ready for 2025. Those who are not familiar can purchase either vintage of the wine. Here is a 2019 92 McD for $ 14, Château Teyssier 2019. Other vintages rated 88-89 points, 2016 and ’19, were also great years on both shores. It should be noted that Saint-Emilion, the largest, oldest active producing region of Bordeaux, is the only classified region which updates the ratings every 10 years.

Why so much ink on Merlot? It is one of the most affordable reds. While these clearly have color and tannins coming from the skins of the grapes, Merlot and Cabernet Franc are not as advanced as Cab Sauv in the area of ​​tannins. It’s a wide brush, of course. These are much more user-friendly than PN or Cab, which are designed to drink, in most cases, and generally more expensive. They go particularly well with a wide variety of winter dishes, including turkey and its traditional sides, dishes in red sauce, caramelized root vegetables, cheese gratins, cold cuts, sharp cheeses, garlic. , braised or grilled meat and rich chocolate desserts. Due to its color, the name Merlot is derived from Merle, the French name for merle. Excellent source of resveratrol. Good health!


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