Monday, August 7, 2017

Dry Creek Vineyard 2014 Merlot, Dry Creek Valley

After tasting this 2014 vintage Merlot, “Merlot Me” might become your new catchphrase. Sonoma shows Merlot can have style.

The Verdict Is Overturned

Every so often you will read about a man or woman who has served time in prison being released because the verdict has been overturned. They’ve been freed because DNA testing or some other evidence has proven they really weren’t guilty of the crime.

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.

Supremely Drinkable

Merlot is grown in almost every wine-producing country in the world. It can produce wines as powerful as Cabernet Sauvignon, but in general it has a softer, less tannic style. Many of the great wines of Bordeaux are primarily blends of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Cabernet and Merlot ripen at different times, making them ideal partners for winegrowers.

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.

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