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After years of being maligned due to the preferences of a grumpy character in the movie Sideways, Merlot is back. Again. Merlot never went away really, it’s just been patiently waiting for you to rediscover its many charms.

Dark and inky in in the glass, with soft to medium tannins, Merlot remains one of the most popular grape varieties. Flavors range from strawberry, red berry, plum, cedar, tobacco to blackberry, plum, and black cherry. Merlot is one of the primary grapes used in Bordeaux wine, and it is the most widely planted grape in the Bordeaux wine regions. Merlot pairs well with roasted meats, grilled veggies and many tomato based dishes.

Here are capsule reviews of Merlot you may find along the Wine Road.

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Cast 2016 Merlot Windsor Oaks Vineyard Chalk Hill  

The Cast 2016 Merlot, Windsor Oaks Vineyard, Chalk Hill is dark garnet in the glass with aromas of black cherry, chocolate and hint of cedar. Flavors of blackberry, mulberry and mocha predominate with good acidity and a velvety mouth feel. Each sip builds upon the last with a long lingering finish. Pair with hearty lamb stew or lamb kabobs.

Colagrossi 2016 Merlot RRV, Sonoma County 

The Colagrossi 2016 Merlot from Russian River Valley is a bit of a chameleon at first. The pale ruby color shows a tinge of gold about the edges. At first, bright fruit notes of pomegranate and tart cherry dominate the palate, then as it opens it glides gracefully into a plush crush of dark berry fruits with a top note of vanilla and a intriguing touch of sage. Nice structure and good acidity make this Merlot a great prospect for pairing with rich cheesy lasagna. 

DeLoach 2018 Merlot Heritage Reserve 

Dark purple in the glass, the De Loach 2018 Merlot Heritage Reserve floats like a cloud across the palate. Soft and supple it’s full of dark plum and blueberry jam flavors with grounding notes of vanilla and candied violets. Long finish, with an edge of bay leaf linger on the palate. Pair with charcuterie board of pate, rich cheeses, salami, and grilled vegetables.

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Hook and Ladder 2015 Merlot Los Amigos Ranch, Chalk Hill

The Hook and Ladder 2015 Merlot, Los Amigos Ranch, Chalk Hill is a sight to behold in the glass with a dark purple glow. A rich scent of mocha, violets and vanilla prevails and sets the stage for an earthy blend rhubarb, tobacco leaf and tart cherry on the palate. Nice medium body with a good balance of fruit and acid. Pair with juicy lamb burgers.

Pedroncelli 2017 Merlot Bench Vineyards Dry Creek Valley 

Dark garnet color in the glass, the Pedroncelli 2017 Merlot, Bench Vineyards, Dry Creek Valley has velvety smooth tannins and dark fruit flavors. The aroma is floral but spicy with scents of violets and rosebud with a note of thyme. Flavors of ripe sugarplum, tart cherry, blueberry, and cedar notes fill the palate with vanilla and graphite on the finish. Pair with pork roast and apple, sage, mushroom stuffing for a festive occasion.

Taft Street 2017 Merlot Alexander Valley, Sonoma County 

The Taft Street 2017 Merlot is red garnet in color with scents of dusty rose petals and anise. Tart red raspberry and red cherry flavors on the approach settle into deep grounding notes of cedar, tobacco leaf, turtle truffle and chocolate. Medium body with fruity finish and stalky tannins. Pair with roast chicken and stuffed mushrooms.

Posted by Marcy Gordon

Marcy Gordon is a freelance wine and travel writer. Her work has appeared in a variety of publications including Wine Enthusiast, San Francisco Chronicle, Sonoma Magazine, The California Travel Guide, and Forbes Travel Guide. In 2017 she was awarded a fellowship to the Symposium for Professional Wine Writers. She is the co-host of the award winning Wine Road Podcast.

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