Distractions, Diversions, Books, Wines, Whiskeys and Other Stuff To Think About When You Should Be Doing Something Else.

Posts tagged “Merlot

Vino Veritas: Mollydooker “Two Left Feet” 2009

Mollydooker “Two Left Feet”

2009: South Australia

68% Shiraz, 18% Cabernet Sauvignon,

14% Merlot

Before the reviewing festivities commence we need to do some preparation. Why, you ask? Well, this is a Mollydooker wine and that means we get to have a little fun before we drink.

Let’s get to shaking!

The video will explain:

Fo those of you who didn’t watch the video; yes, you actually do need to shake up this wine before you drink it. You could also decant it, but that wouldn’t be nearly as entertaining. It really, really does taste completely different before and after the shake.

Yes, I tried it before I shook it up. I’m that kind of guy. Curiosity might be ultimately unpleasant for cats, but I’ve never heard a similar cliché about wine drinkers. Anyway, the flavors were dark, heavy and tight, with tarry, cocoa overtones and an edgy harshness. It wasn’t terrible at all, but then again it wasn’t really great either.

The better question is what is it like afterward. The answer is absolutely delicious. Bright flavors came out to balance the darker notes with nice roundness and chewy goodness. Acids and tannins achieved a harmony. The alcohol, though pretty high at 16% abv, didn’t overpower in its harshness. The finish was long and smooth, begging for food, any food, to accompany it. Personally speaking, the blend for this wine is right in the sweet-spot of my wine-drinking wheelhouse and Mollydooker just went yard like a left-handed all-star against a right-handed fastball pitcher who just got called up from the farm team. What I liked most about “Two Left Feet” was its balance and sheer drinkability. Mollydooker “Two Left Feet”  is the kind of wine that makes wine fun and interesting because it has a great story, great wine makers, and flat-out great bottles to enjoy.


Vino Veritas: Spring Valley Vineyard “Uriah” 2007

Spring Valley Vineyards

“Uriah” 2007

60% Merlot, 28% Cabernet Franc, 6% Petite Verdot, 6% Malbec

How do I compress the deliciousness that is the Spring Valley Vineyards “Uriah” into short, coherent sentences? Know what? I probably shouldn’t even try.

Much like the 2006 vintage of “Uriah”‘s brother wine “Frederick” from Spring Valley Vineyards, the 2007 vintage of Uriah steps up from a previous outstanding vintage and raises the bar on quality. I am typically not a huge fan of Merlot based wines, I’m sure I’ve mentioned that before, but when done right (and “Uriah” is so done right) they can be fantastic examples of the winemaking art.

The fruit for “Uriah” is sourced entirely from Spring Valley’s own Walla Walla Washington vineyards (land purchased by the namesake himself, Uriah Corkrum, and tended by his descendants), no doubt with an attention to quality that borders on the obsessive. The winemaking is also, no doubt, equally as attentive with lots of literal hand-holding, to yield one of the best Merlots I’ve had the pleasure to taste in a very long time.

“Uriah” deals in layers of complexity, the nose is dark, very slightly rasiny, and just a little bit smoky, not of char-smoke but more like some sort of really rich herb-perfumed tobacco. The taste is beyond rich with notes of dark cherry and blackberry and a taste that I can only describe as dried blueberry which are kind of like raisins but entirely not. All of this complexity is backed by very agreeable tannin and a lasting finish that evolves toward chocolate and vanilla.

“Uriah” is altogether too delicious to pass up and Spring Valley Vineyard, being a part of the Ste. Michelle Wine Estates, means wine drinkers should be able to find it in whatever state they reside in, though perhaps in limited quantity. I recommend the effort involved and the price of admission, which is not small, but considering other comparable (and many inferior) wines have much higher price tags it is worth the effort and expense.

Vino Veritas: Raymond Vineyards Napa Valley Reserve Wines

Raymond Vineyards Napa Valley Reserve Wines

2007 Reserve Sauvignon Blanc

This Sauvignon Blanc falls into the grassy / lemony category. It is nicely acidic in a way that makes it very refreshing. Lots of bright flavors would pair well with fish dishes or a nice summer day. This is a good wine to keep in the fridge for those spur-of-the-moment “I need a glass of wine” occasions.

2006 Reserve Chardonnay

While not in a style that is my personal preference for Chardonnay, the Raymond Napa Valley Reserve Chardonnay has a substantial oaky and creamy character that is robust enough to tolerate being paired with hearty foods it still has the acidity to cut through heavier cream sauces like a good garlicky Alfredo.

2005 Reserve Merlot

I found this Merlot to be a tasty gem with a good balance of dark and bright fruit, tannin and a nice spicy finish. It retails for somewhere around $20 (local prices may vary), but is a really good all around value for that price range. Don’t believe the propaganda. Merlot grapes make really good wine when they are treated in the right way. I’d put this one with that leg of lamb or Easter ham that might be on the table this weekend in a heartbeat. Better get two or three bottles, everyone will probably want another glass.

Vino Veritas: Merryvale 1999 Merlot – Beckstoffer Las Amigas Vineyard

Merryvale Merlot – Beckstoffer Las Amigas Vineyard

1999 Carneros, Napa Valley, California

A ‘from the cellar’ edition of Vino Veritas, this 100% Merlot was bottled, unfiltered, in August of 2001 and released in June of 2002. Merryvale has been buying grapes from the world-class Beckstoffer Vineyards since 1992 and continues in partnership with them to produce great single vineyard offerings. The grapes from the Las Amigas vineyard can be found in bottles representing a who’s-who of California wine excellence.

While I will most often save a good bottle of wine for about five years past the vintage year, ten years past the vintage year is usually the upper limit I put on a typical bottle of red, unless I’m sure it will last longer without supervision. With that in mind this Merryvale Merlot is due for an evaluation.

Tasting Notes:

Color:  Garnet red starting to show signs of brickishness. (A good sign the wine is showing its age.)

Nose:  Light, dry and earthy.

Taste:  Medium to light bodied with raisiny fruit. Earthy and woody flavors dominate but still maintains a nice long and balanced finish.

I’m afraid this wine is close to, or has already, hit its peak and is on the downward swing. It is still good but I would guess it will deteriorate fairly quickly so don’t hold on to it for too much longer. In fact, use it to celebrate a Tuesday night sometime in the next month or two. It will go well with veal parmesan (or stuffed mushrooms if you are into fungus) and a bit of candlelight, or a porch swing and one of those cool spring evenings before the mosquitoes arrive.