The Verdict Is Overturned
Enter Merlot. Merlot also had an unfair rap. The hero of “Sideways” proclaimed that he’d rather drink hemlock than Merlot. And, there was a lot of bad Merlot out there – fruity, wimpy and a mere shadow of the grape’s real majesty.These days Merlot is coming on strong and only the uninformed will turn up their nose.
The 2014 Dry Creek Vineyard release is 78% Merlot with 15% of its good buddy Cabernet Sauvignon. The blend is rounded out by 4% Malbec, 2% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot. Dry Creek Vineyards has been producing Merlot in limited quantities since 1973 and the craftsmanship shows in the bottle.
Grapes are grown in the red, iron-rich soils of Dry Creek Valley. The 2014 harvest was in the third year of the California drought, but rain in March and April recharged the ground water in time for the early growing season.
In the glass the wine leads with aromas of red fruit and herbs. The mouthfeel is smooth as satin with no harsh tannins to be found. On the palate, this wine is satisfying in every way. It’s what we’d call a crowd pleaser – with enough sophistication to enchant knowledgeable wine lovers, but enough appeal to satisfy someone with little experience quaffing wine.
The wine offers black cherry and raspberry with flavor notes of cocoa. DCV Merlot is aged for 16 months in American, French and Hungarian oak. That adds a dash of toastiness to the bottle. The finish is coating and triggers an urge to pour another glass.
Dry Creek Vineyard 2014 Merlot retails for $26. It’s a good buy for dinner at home or entertaining.
Full disclosure: This wine was received as a marketing sample.