A Sonoma Surprise
Merlot’s natural blending partner is Cabernet Sauvignon. Merlot is lusher and less tannic than Cabernet. It also ripens faster than Cab. So combining the two makes a lot of sense for the winegrower and the winemaker.
We uncorked the 2014 St. Francis Reserve Merlot on Mardi Gras. Green Dragon likes to host parties and enjoys cooking up Cajun-style food. Cajun food is known for including just about everything but the kitchen sink in the boiling pot. So I was pleased to see that the Merlot also included a surprise ingredient.
The St. Francis Reserve is 77% Merlot, 19% Malbec and 4% Cabernet Sauvignon. The Malbec elevates this reserve wine above your typical Merlot. The resulting wine has exquisite flavors of blackberry and currant with a dollop of vanilla.
The grapes for this wine are hand sorted with the Merlot coming from the Wild Oak and Behler vineyards in Sonoma County. The vineyards are protected from extreme weather allowing them to ripen to great depth of color and flavor.
Aging is for 20 months in French oak, about half of it new barrels. The wine also undergoes malolactic fermentation, which accounts in part for the beauteous full and rich body.
The wine retails for about $40 and pairs well with lamb or pork dishes. We can report that it pairs very well with jambalaya and red beans and rice too!
The 2014 St. Francis Reserve Merlot is highly recommended for those who want to drench themselves in a flavorful wine experience.
Full disclosure: We received this wine as a marketing sample.