That's right; I said it. Mer-effing-lot! Gotta problem with that?
Seriously, though; reflecting on past voyages through galaxies of wine, I realize that Merlot, in its single-varietal form, is one grape, which I've woefully overlooked. And no, it's not because of this or this. I believe the cause is several off-putting trysts with mediocre & poor Merlot early in my wine experimenting life. However, through no fault of Bordeaux's second fiddle, I never again really seriously considered exploring Merlot - neither in ten-dollar bottlings nor in its $50-and-up trophy case expression. I simply overlooked it; even while visiting Long Island (perhaps home to the New World's next big push in pro-Merlot PR).
But then a couple things caught my eye over the course of a few weeks. The Caveman, whose palate I plan on cloning in the near future, introduced Merlot (from California, no less) to one of his swanky holiday dinners. In fact, the Neyers Merlot selection stood alongside some pretty impressive company: Vega Sicilia and Latour Haut Brion. Around the same time, I was reading a piece by Maggie at the Wine Offensive and she mentioned that, "There is just something about Merlot and Northern Italy for me." At this point, Merlot was thoroughly wedged into the back of my brain; gnawing away at my subconscious until, when at the wine shop, I noticed an unassuming bottle of Merlot from Northern Italy. Before I realized what I was doing, I had placed a cheap (~$10) bottle of Merlot in my cart. Something I couldn't have seen myself doing just weeks ago (and by the way, Neyers Merlot is next on my to-drink list).
LaVis Merlot Trentino DOC 2003 ($10) [LaVis's site appears to be down. More info can be found here at Omniwines]
- Merlot from Italy's fun & odd Trentino-Alto Adige region (watch this space for more info on Trentino-A.A.)
- Deep inky-maroon in color; fading to bright ruby near the rim
- Deceptively complex scents - initially, I sniffed a bouquet of ripe red & black cherries, but more complexity followed. I detected scents of violet and cola along with meaty notes
- In the mouth, LaVis came across as medium-bodied, with nice crisp character and subtle rounded tannins. The flavors were much more simple - mostly fruit, but still very enjoyable
***.5 (3.5 stars out of 5)
I would describe LaVis Merlot as a pure expression of Merlot character. Thankfully it seemed to be spared any heavy-duty oak treatment. Additionally, this wine rang in at 12.5% alcohol. That meant that after two glasses, I wasn't ready for a nap (i.e. on a stormy Saturday night, a wine with 14-plus % alcohol would have made me become rapidly horizontal).
I enjoyed this wine with home-made medium heat buffalo chili. It is also a fine candidate for Stephen's Jumbalaya calzone creation.
PS - join in the virtual wine-sharing fun with Vino Voyeur