Jeff’s Corner

“Ah, but you must have zee Merlot! It is French!” to quote Maurice the maitre’d from the legendary Cafe Boeuf, “where the elite meet to eat”. Indeed, zee Merlot grape, along with Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon, is one of the 3 “noble” red grapes of the world.

So, as promised, today we’ll check out zee new 2014 GCV Merlot. First, however, a little history of a great varietal that has been much maligned since that silly little movie “Sideways” was released in 2004.

Thanks to DNA research at UC Davis in the ’90’s, we know that Merlot is yet another offspring of the very promiscuous Cabernet Franc. It has 3 half-siblings in Carmenere, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Malbec. Its mother was discovered to be an unnamed, obscure varietal (some forgotten purple floozie, no doubt) in the late 2000s.

The first written mention of the grape appears in 1784 where it was spelled “merlaut” in notes penned by a clerk in Bordeaux. Then, in an 1824 article on Medoc wines, it was spelled Merlot and said to be named after the “Merlau”, a blackbird that was especially fond of dining on the grapes right off the vines. The dark-blue hue of the grapes is also a reference to the color of a young blackbirds feathers.

It’s hard to say goodbye to our incredible ’13 vintage, but the new 2014 will certainly help ease the pain. I keep searching for ways to describe Jason’s winemaking style, and my new favorite phrase is “delicate complexity” along with my old favorite “finesse and balance”.

The color is dark ruby/purple, with aromas and flavors of lush blackberry and black plum interlaced with leather, chocolate, vanilla, cinnamon, and clove. After 30-40 minutes in the glass, some spicy black licorice joined the dance.

The ’14 is medium-bodied with an elegant, lingering finish. With soft tannins and oak infused with delicate flavors of fruit and spice, the wine shows great potential for developing even more complexity with some bottle age.

When asked for a food pairing with this lovely wine, Maurice the maitre’d quickly replied “Ah, but you must have zee incredible new Grape Creek Merlot with zee fabulous Boeuf Bourguignonne!”