Let me admit that I’m not a big fan of domestic Merlot. While there are some good ones, even a few excellent ones, I find most American Merlot is generic red wine. It has no character, like the smokiness of a cool weather Syrah or the earthiness of a good Pinot Noir or the complexity of a Cabernet Sauvignon.
Our Thursday night tasting last week was Merlot, mostly from the Napa Valley with some grapes sourced from Sonoma. Some were blends with the grapes coming from both areas. All the wines were reasonably good wines but nothing really stood out for me. I’ll just list the wines we tasted with a little information on each one.
2005 Artesa Vineyards Merlot – This was 81.5% Merlot, 7.5% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Syrah and 5% Cabernet Franc. The vineyards were in Caeneros, Sonoma Valley, Knights Valley and Sonoma Mountain. This was the favorite wine of the group.
2008 Napa Station Merlot – A blend of 77% Merlot, 21% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2% Petit Verdot all from Napa Valley, 77% Los Carneros, 17% Oakville, 6% Rutherford.
2009 Flora Springs Winery – All Napa Valley fruit from vineyards in Rutherford, Oakville and Pope Valley. There is a little Malbec blended in as well.
2008 Provenance Vineyards Napa Valley Merlot – Vineyard information was not given but I believe the grapes came from the Las Amigas and Oak Knoll vineyards.
2009 Markham Napa Valley Merlot – Markham has several vineyards with Merlot and the amount from each will vary year to year.
2009 Sbragia Family Vineyards Home Ranch Merlot – This wine is a blend of 96% Merlot and 4% Cabernet Franc. The Home Ranch vineyard is in the southern end of the Dry Creek Valley.
All were nice drinking wines priced between $20 and $35 but none of them stood out to me as very exciting. If you like Merlot, all are worth trying but I’ll switch to Cabernet.