Tuesday Tipplers

January 10, 1995

Wherefore Merlot


MERLOT    A black grape which thrives in cooler climates, it gives a wine of close texture fragrance and soft full-bodied fruitiness. Traditionally blended with most bordeaux wine, particularly its notable cousin, Cabernet sauvignon. In recent years he earlier maturing Merlot is rapidly being marked as a varietal in its own right.


A Few quotes from various wine books ........


France:    Merlot is grown in the St. Emilion and Pomerol district where wines are known for their rounder character. Richer soil and a greater proportion of the Merlot grape is the essential element responsible for the fruitier tastes.


Italy:        Merlot is grown in the northeastern region of Trentino-Alto Adilge, near the Austrian border. Other grapes of the region include Cabernet and Riesling, white Pinot and Gewürztraminer.


Australia: Merlot is a relative newcomer to Australian vineyards and was the most recent success behind the rounding of the harsh Cabernets of the area.


Bulgaria:    Prior to the 70's Bulgaria offered and exotic taste trip with risky results for the purchase investment. Today, Bulgaria delivers some of the worlds best wine value for the money--- above all the rich Cabernets that have been tamed with Merlot.


California: The University of California has done much to the introduction of quality grape on the wine areas. Merlot is a principal grape grown in Region 1 area together with its companion Cabernet Sauvignon.


Serbia & Slovenia: A late comer in the production of wines to international expectations. The production and blending of Merlot has thus far brought mixed to disappointing results.


South Africa: Merlot was only recently introduced but great hopes are pinned on its ability to mollify the stern Cabernet and add to taste complexity, rather than simple attenuate it with traditional Cinsaut.


South America: The better wines of the area comes from Chile, with Argentina and Peru as close seconds. Most bodega wine is produced in the Bordeaux fashion with Merlot being the important ingredient to fashion wine area, particularly Cabernet, to North America and continental expectations.


Switzerland: In the Italian speaking Canton, Merlot was introduced in the late 19th century and has steadily been used to increase quality and acceptance of Switzerland as an international player of fine wines.



Tonight's amusements will be a selection of Merlot from around the Vintages world.


Ten Tipplers less Bob the Butcher and Ross the Tallyman arrived at Heizer's to savour the Tamer of CabSauv.


Preamble was a cheerfully received Napa Cordorniu Brut @ $19.95 that proved to be no challenge to the refined sensors of the ten.


The evening of Merlot from hither and yon started with a French Francais Lebet that was judged OK to acceptable for the $7.75 price tag. This was followed by a 1993 Chilean Montes that was deemed a much better buy at $8.00. General opinion was that a couple of years in the rack would improve the balance and finish of these two. Speaking of racks, the next pour was a 1992 Spanish Torres at $12.95 rumored to be from Casa Inquisition and a bit rough on the gizzard. The tasting turned to the better with a 1990 Slovenian Vlnakoper at a mere $9.95 only to be topped with a long necked Merlot of unknown parentage (later confirmed as Slovenian) that was excellent and known only as "no year" Vipaua tagged at $8.75. Best bottle of the evening was a 1991 Californian Chateau St. Jean hung with an unjustifiable price of $19.95. All of the foregoing clearly demonstrates the Tipplers not only possess high vino cognizance, but they are also incredibly cheap.


The evening was capped with a corked Australian 1983 DeBortoli at $21.95, that was downed anyway, and a few mouthfuls of outstanding 1985 (not a good year) Chateau d'Yquem that managed to survive the Christmas holidays.

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