Monday, March 14, 2005

Good F***ing Merlot

Columbia-Crest, "Grand Estates" Columbia Valley Merlot 2001 ($14) -- Washington State. This is a Top 100 wine this year by the Wine Spectator and won a Gold Medal at the recent Cincinnati Wine Festival. I'm not sure of the impact of the Cincy Gold, but the WS score has pulled all the available cases out of the fine wine stores, but you can still find some at some super markets. (Don't expect me to tell you which ones, but it could be a wild place to buy organic foods.)

First off, I know Merlot has gotten a bad rap recently, but it is actually a great food wine as it doesn't overpower the food and is often a simple, pleasant sipping wine due to its smooth, balanced flavors. My complaint against it is that it is too often a "safe" choice for those who should be exploring all the other hundreds of varietals. Life is too short to drink the same wines all the time. Next time you are at a restaurant, instead of asking for a Merlot, ask for a Malbec from Argentina or a Grenache (Garnacha, if you are really hip!) from Spain. I would stay away from inquiring about the Hungarian Zweigelt's yet!

I power decanted this bottle for about 20 minutes by turning the bottle upside down into a carafe with maximum velocity. The nose is low key, but the flavors are a delicious balance of fruit and soft vanilla with maybe a hint of residual sugar. The mid-palate is solid and the finish is long. I am guessing that this wine saw a liberal use of new Oak. It is very tasty and smooth. I can see why it is so popular.


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