When Merlot is mentioned, I think of the movie Sideways when Miles steadfastly refused to drink Merlot while holding his prescription of Xanax in his jacket pocket. Paul Giamatti’s character hated merlot precisely because it was so easy to drink. He wasn’t making a comment on the quality of merlot per se but his own antagonistic contrarian tendencies.
Happily, I don’t share the same insecurities and anxieties over merlot as Miles. Some of the most successful and pleasurable wines I have made during my career to date have been Merlot. Relatively recent as a variety, it is one of the most widely planted vines around the world. And responsible for some of the most expensive wine made in the world. Chateau Petrus has a cult-like following. Chateau Trotanoy also in Pomerol is outstanding.
Often blended with Cabernet Sauvignon or Cabernet Franc or Malbec for its suppleness. As a standalone wine, it can range in style from structured and concentrated to aromatic, with fresh acidity and a medium body. The best Merlot wines I believe are riper, textural, silky with seamless tannins; a mix of chocolate and plummy fruit richness and floral aromatics with oak taking a back seat. Young Merlot (<5yo) benefit from decanting for a few hours to open the perfume and release the fruit.
This month, we are showcasing the 2015 and a teaser of the 2016 Bunnamagoo Merlot. Both were tasted for this article. The 2015 is showing the transition into secondary bottle age characters – spicy notes elevate over mocha/chocolate and fruitcake characters. The tannins are very fine and are carried well within the fruit on the palate. The 2016 brings raspberry and cherry fragrances that follow into the medium weighted varietal palate. Both wines have the proportion, friendliness and drinkability that we hope you will enjoy and associate with merlot.
So don’t be a Miles. Be his mate Jack and say, “If they want to drink Merlot, we’re drinking Merlot”.