Updated: Nov 2, 2021
“If anyone orders Merlot, I'm leaving. I am not drinking any fucking Merlot.”
Merlot in the United States usually gets a bad rep. The infamous quote from the movie "Sideways" decimated the way Americans look at the grape, even though it is one of the most famous varietals in the world. Merlot is used across the globe in both red blends and by itself and has famously been used in right bank Bordeaux wines. So this begs the question: Does the market even know what's in a bottle of Bordeaux?
The simple answer is probably not.
All wines from Bordeaux are blends with grapes on the left bank being Cabernet Sauvignon driven, with those on the right bank being Merlot based. Merlot brings a silky, tannin-driven structure to wines, which is much earthier than its left bank counterparts. Saint Emilion, the town where this month's wine is from, is very famous for their style of left bank Bordeaux.
So, why all the hate? Merlot has a connotation in the United States as being a cheap and bland alternative to Cabernet Sauvignon. It has been cited as being oversaturated in the market, when in reality none of this is true. Merlot can be elegant, complex and unique given the right producer and the region. It's time to change public opinion about this legendary grape varietal, bringing me to this months wine:
2016 Chateau de Lescours St. Émilion Grand Cru.
This wine is a blend of 80% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 10% Cabernet Franc. With notes of plumb, blackberry and a wonderful expression of Leather and Oak, I would take this bottle slowly. I also get notes of truffles and an earthy barnyard.
In order to enjoy a wine like this, I would recommend decanting for about 30-45 minutes and watching as the wine opens up over time. There are soft silky tannins and a good acid structure. This combination is best paired with some sort of protein with a high fat content but would steer more towards earthy flavors. A bbq pork tenderloin perhaps or roasted veggies on the grill.
Have any questions or comments? Don't be afraid to reach out and let me know what you have open this month.