Jeff’s Corner 12-4-20

Bon Jour,

I am repeatedly amazed at the utter contempt so many red wine drinkers hold for Merlot, looking down their noses at it with a disdain equal to what we might expect for a fizzy Moscato. Château Pétrus from Pomerol in Bordeaux is, after all, 100% Merlot and is one of most sought after, collectible and pricey wines in the world. (The current 2017 would set us back around $2500.00.)

I repeatedly hear statements like “Nope, don’t “do” Merlot” or “I’ll “do” any red but Merlot.” This unwarranted varietal profiling can be traced directly to 2004 with the release of that silly movie “Sideways,” which did untold damage to a noble red grape and drove the price of mediocre Pinot Noir through the roof.

I want to qualify this, however. It’s okay and normal not to like certain grape varieties. I’m not particularly fond of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, but I’m certainly open to trying them and have tasted many that are outstanding wines.

By now you have probably figured out that today we are going to check out our new 2018 GCV Merlot, but first a little word history. 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 only on those grapes. Also, the dark-blue hue of the skin alludes to the color of a young blackbird’s feathers.

Personally, I feel our Merlot has long been an unsung hero in our red portfolio. The legendary 2014 was entered in six competitions and garnered 3 gold medals and 3 double golds. It is traditionally medium-bodied, and crafted in an “old-world” style with soft tannins and moderate oak that make it very accessible.

Now, on to the delightful new 2018. The color is a medium ruby/garnet and the wine features 100% Merlot, all from our Texas High Plains growers. The ABV is a friendly 13.9%. Complex, layered aromas of black cherry, blackberry and cassis are supported with secondary aromas of vanilla, clove, cigar box and sweet, soft oak.

Incredibly well-balanced for a young wine, the palate shows a smoky, rustic earthiness complimented by generous amounts of rich, dark fruit. The long, fruit-driven finish is in delicate harmony with perfectly integrated acid and tannin. Let’s serve this about 60*.

Here’s one of our favorite dinners that would pair great with this very food-friendly wine. Dredge some thick bone-in pork chops in flour and brown in a large skillet in olive oil. Remove from the pan, deglaze with red wine and put the chops back in. Place whole cremini mushrooms in the pan, sprinkle with one package Lipton onion soup and just barely cover everything with red wine.  

Cover and bake at 325* for about 45 minutes, until tender. The wine will thicken into a nice gravy; we like it with steamed carrots and potatoes.

Please be safe…