“No, if anyone orders Merlot I’m leaving. I am not drinking any f***ing Merlot!”
It’s safe to say this quote from the 2004 movie Sideways is what comes to mind when many of us think of Merlot. We all felt sorry for Miles, the depressed, Eeyore-like, unsuccessful writer and self-proclaimed wine aficionado who refuses to drink Merlot. But that makes me feel even more sorry for Merlot.
The movie slowed sales of Merlot wines in the U.S. (while dramatically increasing sales of Pinot Noir), and gave the grape a bad rap. But Merlot is responsible for some of the finest wines in the world—including Miles’ beloved 1961 Château Cheval Blanc.
The early-ripening grape can produce wines that are plummy, soft and easy to drink, with more fruit and softer tannins than Cabernet Sauvignon (with which it’s often blended). In the right hands, Merlot can produce profound wines with velvety tannins that can be drunk young but also have extraordinary ability to age for decades.
Château Pétrus, Le Pin, Ornellaia’s Masseto and Le Macchiole’s Messorio are all wines based on Merlot. And Europe isn’t the only continent responsible for world-class Merlot wines.
On Saturday, March 3, Lisa Perrotti-Brown, Master of Wine and The Wine Advocate’s editor-in-chief, will host our Master Class Washington and a Global View of Merlot as part of our annual Matter of Taste event taking place at The City Club of San Francisco. There, she’ll lead you through some of the most profound Merlots being made in the New World, from Napa, Sonoma, Washington, Australia and even New Zealand.
The Master Class will feature 11 wines all rated 90 points or higher by TWA’s roster of reviewers. You’ll even get to taste two stellar 100-point beauties: 2013 Vérité La Muse from Sonoma and the 2013 Kapcsandy Family Winery Merlot Roberta’s Reserve from Yountville. “At 100% Merlot, the 2013 Merlot Roberta’s Reserve is off the charts and could easily eclipse a great vintage of Pétrus in a blind tasting,” Robert Parker said when he reviewed the Kapcsandy Roberta’s Reserve. “This wine has greatness all over it.”