Way back in 2004, Merlot had a bad name.
Myles, the main character in the movie Sideways, famously uttered his contempt for Merlot in this classic scene. That reputation was probably well-deserved as the market had been flooded with a lot of cheap, crappy wine.
Not anymore. Our friends, Alisa and Ken, recently hosted a blind tasting that proves Merlot is worth a try.
They served a line-up of four wines. For each one, we tried to guess the year, the cost, and the region. We also discussed what we liked and didn't about each one.
We attended a similar party at Alisa and Ken's last year, and a mid-priced Syrah from Ramona was the surprise winner. It proved the value of tasting wines blind - without any preconceived notions of price, region, or relative quality.
Would we have another surprise? Here were the vintages, regions, and price points. Which do you think was the winner?
- 2010, Montagne-Saint-Emilion, $12
- 2011, Ramona, $28
- 2011, Napa Valley, $30
- 2013, Napa Valley, $40
Perhaps it would help to know the wineries? Here's a photo line-up of the bottles:
And, the winner is...
The crowd favorite was the 2011 Clos du Val Merlot. It has a classic California Merlot taste. Dark fruit and a little spice on the nose and a little fruit-forward with blackberry and plum on the finish complemented with nicely balanced tannins.
- We've visited all the wineries except for the one in France.
- Trefethen displayed this funny sign outside their winery not long after Sideways came out.
- Sally and I both had the Trefethen Merlot marked as #2 on our ballots. That's a surprise, because the last time we visited the winery we thought it was a dud.