Tuesday July 2, 2008
"I’m not drinking any F***ing merlot! If anyone orders Merlot, I’m leaving!"
This famous quote from Miles Raymond in the movie ‘Sideways’ coincided with a much-ballyhooed decline in Merlot’s popularity. People began to treat Merlot drinkers the way they treat guys with mullets or fans of Gidget movies.
Never mind that the grape had been planted willy-nilly by opportunists seeking to tap the burgeoning market for this friendly wine. Forget that most of these new vineyard sites were poorly selected and destined to produce vapid, forgettable wines. And forget that as Miles uttered these words he stood in Santa Barbara County – a cool weather region with very few warm areas capable of ripening Merlot.
So let’s just all agree here and now, there ARE some great merlots in the world. There, I said it.
And now there’s a cinematic tribute to Merlot called "Merlove", which premiered last week at Copia. This homage to merlot was made "in response to the movie ‘Sideways’", by film maker Rudolph N. McClain. It was nicely conceived and filmed (judging from the trailers, I was not at the opening), and seemes interesting enough to appeal to the wine afficianado regardless of their thoughts on the grape.
Merlove is not a summer blockbuster. But what wine movie is? Despite next month’s national release of ‘Bottle Shock’, wine is hardly the theme for a movie that will be among the summer’s top ten revenue producers. Still, I’m enjoying wine’s new role as a newly-popular cinematic theme, but I’m also OK if their appeal is limited to an art-house crowd. For if everyone loved good merlot, we’d never get our tastesbuds around undiscovered gems like this one:
"Hidden Gem" Merlot – Barrack 2005 "Brand" $42
Deeply-colored blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Cabernet Sauvignon, with Merlot taking the starring role. Rich scents of plums, cassis, licorice, dark earth, toasty oak, and cedar forest. The tannins in this wine will improve with four to five years of bottle age though you will never regret opening a bottle.
While not quite as dark and concentrated as the 2004, the 2005 offers an elegant expression of Merlot. The wine has a very fine nose with hints of blackberry, plum, oak wood, and currants. On the palate it is very diverse from front to back jammy fruit, hints of espresso, herbs, and tobacco. Only 200 cases produced!
The Vineyard, The Winemaker:
Winemaker Doug Margerum is the former owner of the Wine Cask (Santa Barbara and Los Olivos), an accomplished chef, and a consulting winemaker. Among all his commitments he somehow manages to find time to make wine for Tom and Laurel Barrack, the owners of Happy Canyon Vineyard.
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