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25 April 2007

Of Jawas, Merlot and the Hands of Winemakers

Jawa Of Jawas
In my neck of the woods, it seems as if Greece is attempting to become the new Spain.  There are now a bevvy of inexpensive Greek whites and reds available in the local wine shop.  Some are great finds like - Robola, Xinomavro and Santorini (named for the island of origin.  Santorini is made from Asyrtio).  My favorite Greek grape name to date is Roditis.  I was drawn to it as the name reminded me of the sounds of Jawas celebrating the short-circuiting of R2D2 (admit it, you know exactly what I'm talking about.  Listen here).  Sadly, my first taste of Roditis wasn't fantastic.  I will however, try it again, if only so I can say, "Roditis!"

It's sad that Merlot's reputation as a varietal has been sullied by waves of under-whelming wine.  How often do you hear someone (who fancies themselves a wine lover) order a bottle of Merlot?  Last week at a lovely little restaurant in Santa Barbara, I ordered a glass of Westerly Merlot '03 to try with lamb.  The wine was not at all soft and fruity.  Rather, it was a little herby and a little edgy - perfect with roasted meat.  My new mantra: "Don't hate the grape, hate the winemaker's hand."

The Hands of Winemakers
Speaking of my new mantra (and I don't hate, the word 'hate' just fits better in the mantra.  Let's call it 'dislike'.), while in Cali, I had the opportunity to taste two wines from the very same vineyards, but made by different hands.  One a Sangiovese by Bruno, the other, a Sangiovese by [name redacted].  Bruno was as complicated and lovely a red wine as one could ever want.  On the other hand, the [redacted] Sangiovese was an over-opulent, droopy ball of fruit and alcohol.  It seems the major difference in the two was the winemakers.  Some get it.  some don't.


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Josh Hermsmeyer

Awesome post. But every Star Wars nerd knows that the Jawas are actually saying "Utini!", which is their fearsome war cry (

I love reading about tastings of wines made from the same vineyard by different winemakers. Wines are made in the vineyard...except when they're not.

By the way, one very good merlot I'd heartily recommend is the tiny 72 case run recently released by Moshin. Delicious stuff with good balance and vibrant acidity.

Dorian- Budget Vino

Love the new mantra man. It's amazing how merlot has been given such a bad name, when it's really the winemakers that are truly to blame.


JH - Ahh perhaps I was thinking of those Jawas with the southern Tatooine accent..


Glad you could make it to Santa Barbara. Another great Merlot from this area is Carhartt. Check it out!


What about Washington State Merlot?

East Village Wine Geek

All I gotta say about merlot is go and rent Sideways on DVD and watch the deleted scenes. One of them shows Milo talking about why he hates merlot. Because it reminds him of his ex-wife. Not because it is a bad varietal. Let's bring it back. While everyone is focusing on pinot noir i think the "winemaker's hand" is going to take better care of merlot and we will see in the next couple of years a consistancy in good balanced merlot. Little black bird lives on and strong! Love the Jawa reference! May the force be with you. Great mantra too.


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wait a second...there's a wine Jawas images in the bottle? OK in that case I want a darkside wine...what? I find your lack of faith disturbing jajajaja.

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