Monday, December 11, 2006

Slow Merlot

2002 Larkmead Vineyards, Napa Valley Merlot ($42) -- California. This was one of the last few bottles of 2002 in the state. There is some 2001 available. The 2002 got a bigger score (92 versus 90) so the distributor was cleaned out.

Larkmead Vineyards has been around for about 100 years and has been owned by the Solari family since 1948.

It is amazing that one line in one movie could have such an impact on Merlot sales (I have heard sales are off 20%), but I think the comment was made as a damnation to those who drink (and make) bland mass-produced Red wine. The irony of the comment was that his beloved Cheval Blanc is made from vineyards that are about one-third Merlot.

Merlot from good producers is complex, nuanced, with soft approachable flavors that evolve in the glass after a few hours of being opened. It is a better food wine than a massive, big bad tannic Napa Cab. So take your time next time you savor a Merlot.

The 2002 Larkmead Merlot was all of the above during yesterday's dinner preparation while I watched the Bengal game and the wine married well with a sirloin tip roast and roasted vegetables. I look forward to trying the 2001 if I can keep it in the shop. The last case was snatched away before I had a chance to taste. I found this 2002 at a wine store down the street in their cellar. It was their last bottle.


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