Merlot

Kirkland Signature, Merlot, Alexander Valley 2008

by Tim Elliott on February 9, 2011

Kirkland Signature, Merlot, Alexander Valley 2008

Photo from the Costco Wine Blog

We all need mid-week wines that deliver interesting flavor without spending a lot of money. The problem is that many widely available wines under $10 are just not that exciting. So I often look for less popular varieties from countries like Spain and Portugal for my “Tuesday-Thursday” wines.

But there is a lot of good wine on the California bulk market these days so sometimes the big-box retailers like Costco and Sam’s Club have some values. And depending on where you live, you don’t even need a club membership to buy these wines; at least, that’s the law here in Minnesota. I usually shop at Costco so I picked up this store brand Merlot a few weeks back for $8.99. Alexander Valley produces a number of nice Merlot and Cabernet-based wines so I thought this was worth a flyer. Worst case, I have some wine to cook with.

Costco used to be the domain of Cameron Hughes but over the past couple of years I’ve noticed his wines mostly available at Sam’s Club. As his selections sold through at Costco, the store brand Kirkland seemed to replace those wines along with the normal selection of well chosen wines at very good prices. In fact, Costco might just be the best place to find wine values in the $25-60 range. And based on this selection, they might have the under $10 market covered, too.

Tasting Notes:

Kirkland Signature, Merlot, Alexander Valley 2008 ($9) – Garnet color with aromas of blackcurrant, black cherry, black licorice and cedar. Rich black cherry fruit flavors with blackcurrant, black pepper and mint finishing with moderate tannins. Drink over the next year or two.

14.5% ABV
Natural cork closure
Rating: ★★★½☆
Score: 87

Rodney Strong, "Symmetry", Meritage 2007

For a long time now the Rodney Strong brand has stood for value regularly over delivering in their price category. Whether it’s their entry $18 Cabernet or their single-vineyard, allocated Rockaway bottling, when you see Rodney Strong on the label you can be assured you will get some thing interesting in the glass. The house style is to create round and harmonious wines with loads of sweet fruit surrounded by toasty French oak.

Their “Symmetry” Meritage is a Cabernet Sauvignon led wine that could have been labeled as this variety since it makes up 85% of the blend. But the winemaking team is aiming higher here producing a Bordeaux style blend from several vineyard sources in Sonoma’s Alexander Valley. The addition of traditional blending grapes Malbec, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot adds to the complexity in the aromas and flavors, elevating what would be a very nice Cabernet to another level. My only concern was the rather generous French oak treatment which will likely work itself out with further aging.

Tasting Notes:

Rodney Strong, “Symmetry”, Meritage Red Wine, Alexander Valley 2007 ($55/sample) –  A blend of 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Malbec, 3% Merlot, 1% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot. Very deep purple in color with complex aromas of blackberry, blackcurrant, cigar box, sage and black licorice. Bold and rich blackcurrant and blackberry flavors with cassis and black pepper finishing with toasty oak and firm tannins. Decant for 2-3 hours now or put in the cellar for 5-7 years. Delicious, if a bit over-oaked, at this point but I expect this to integrate as it ages.

15.1% ABV
Natural cork closure
Score: 91
Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy this wine online
Snooth listing

Winecast 76 – Merlove

by Tim Elliott on December 20, 2009

Five years and one day after I started this blog and podcast I get back behind the mic and restart regular podcasting. This episode features an interview with Rudy McClain, the filmmaker of the documentary Merlove. I also pick three Merlot wines from my tasting log for review.

Show Notes:

00:30 – Welcome and show theme
02:22 – Interview with Merlove filmmaker Rudy McClain
15:25 – My review of the documentary Merlove
17:35 – Review of Bodegas Osborne, “Solaz”, Merlot-Tempranillo 2006
18:43 – Review of Blackstone, Merlot, Sonoma Reserve 2007
19:18 – Review of Raphael, Merlot 2001
21:37 – Feedback & call for new theme music
22:13 – Next show theme

Tasting Notes:

Bodegas Osborne, “Solaz”, Merlot (65%) Tempranillo (35%), 2006 ($9) – Garnet in color with aromas of black cherry, white pepper, licorice and vanilla. Bold plum and black cherry fruit with black pepper finishing with just a hint of bell pepper and moderate tannins. A very nice table wine for under $10.

13.5% ABV
Synthetic cork closure
Rating: ★★★☆☆

Buy this wine online
Snooth Listing

Blackstone, Merlot, Sonoma Reserve 2007 ($20/sample) – Dark purple with aromas of black cherry, dark current and sage. Rich plum and dark cherry fruit with some mint finishing with supple tannins.

14.5% ABV
Natural cork closure
Rating: ★★★½☆

Buy this wine online
Snooth Listing

Raphael, Merlot, North Fork of Long Island 2001 ($25/750 ml/won in Menu for Hope raffle; tasted from 3L) – Deep garnet in color with aromas of black cherry, currant and mint. Rich black current and black cherry fruit with white pepper, bell pepper flavors finishing with moderate but well integrated tannins. Has structure for another 10 years in the cellar in this format. Outstanding Long Island Merlot that I would guess was from Bordeaux in a blind tasting.

12.5% ABV
Natural cork closure
Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy this wine online
Snooth Listing

Feedback: winecast@gmail.com
Voicemail: +1-646-495-9244 x 60514

http://drop.io/winecast

Copyright 2009 Acan Media, Inc. Licensed under Creative Commons.

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Join Me For Twitter Taste Live ‘Merlove’ Edition

by Tim Elliott on February 4, 2009

MerloveOn February 19th I’ll be in downtown Minneapolis participating in the Twitter Taste Live event before the screening of the new film, “Merlove.” Think “Sideways” as a documentary with Merlot as it’s central focus.

Twin Cities locals can join me down at the Ritz Theater with the pre-show tasting starting around 6:00 p.m. local time. I’ll be Twittering notes and maybe even sending up some live video if the wifi connection is cooperative. Wine sponsors Sacre Bleu and Haskell’s promise some nice wines for tasting. Merlot goes without saying. Knowing how provocative Sacre Bleu can be, maybe even Miles’ favorite Pinot might be poured, who knows?

I’ll be recording another edition of the now-rare full length podcast and including my review of the film. Hope to see some local friends in attendance. Get your tickets here.

And, yes, I love Merlot.

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