Matt Walker

Location: Northridge, CA

I am a Certified Specialist of Wine and uncertified Wine Geek! As a Snoother, I hope to raise awareness for smaller, lesser-known but quality driver producers. Major regions I specialize in include Washington, California, Tuscany, Bordeaux, and the Douro

Wines Less Traveled : Merlot

Poor old Merlot.  It recieved such a blow thanks to Sideways which is surprising in a lot of ways, not least of which was that it was only one chuckle worthy line a in movie only tenuously about wine.  I guess it just demonstrates the power of film and media. 

Let's face it though, Merlot, at least truck loads of California Merlot had it coming.  Inocuous fruit bombs lacking any sort of nuance, structure, acidity, or balance and left with not a small amount of residual sugar drowned the shelves of liquor stores, super markets, and even dedicated wine shops.  It became everyone's beginner's red.  Something to let you get your feet wet before moving on to bigger and better wines.  People forgot Merlot's history as one of the two most important red grapes of Bordeaux and the top grape for St. Emilion and Pomerol.  We forgot that merlot could be big and bold without losing it's silky, sumptous side. 

Thankfully, oenophiles are starting to remember how great Merlot could be and producers are as well, especially those up in Washington where Merlot is truly thriving.  Merlot's the comeback kid of the new decade, even if, for some, it never really left.

1. Monticello Vineyards Estate Grown Oak Knoll District Merlot (2007)

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Previously available for $34.00
This Merlot from the cooler Oak Knoll part of Napa Valley harkens back to old school Napa as well as ye olde world France. Exquisitely balanced, the wine shows focused rays of black cherry and red currants counterpointed by espresso and cocoa powder and kept lithe and lively by that great cool weather acidity.
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  • 191129Buzzard Breath several worthy of Top Ten consideration.

  • 1062644Wisequeen Donna Jackson the overoaked merlot produced in California, surely didnt help, but merlot produced in south africa by great winemakers and more recently in Piemonte Italy too, makes me happy.

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