Blind tasting of 13 Merlot from CA/ WA/ Bordeaux

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Blake Brown
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Blind tasting of 13 Merlot from CA/ WA/ Bordeaux

Post by Blake Brown » Fri Sep 29, 2017 5:39 am

I just discovered some notes worth writing up from a tasting in July and since I`m in Amsterdam for a month`s vacation, I have more than enough time to do so now. I`m only reviewing some of the 18 wines we tasted blind:

2004 CHATEAU MONTVIEL POMEROL- this wine took first in a fight of 6 and for a good reason; it was beautifully balanced offering up front ripe and fresh black fruit with accents of liquorice, toast and minerals; it had medium weight and a soft mouthfeel gliding over the palate to the back end proving extended pleasure.

2012 CHATEAU CROIX de LABRIE CAMILLE de LABRE SAINT EMILLION- it had similar notes to the Montviel, but with much more oak influence and much less balance; the liquorice, toast and mineral components were joined by some mint chocolate and a greater fruit forwardness; it was much heavier in weight and the oak seemed to dominate; it begs the question of whether this will be integrated over time or continue to trudge on; it came in last in the same flight as the Montviel.

2004 COLUMBIA CREST GRAND ESTATES MERLOT- I threw this in as a ringer since it was purchased for under $10 and would be a tough call in a blink tasting; it was a Wine Spectator #8 in the 07` top 100; made of 97% Merlot, 3.5% Cabernet Sauvignon and .5% Cabernet Franc; still showing strong with continued surprising pleasure, it had wondrous blackberry and plum fruit with mild chocolate and coffee notes; it had a medium plus body and a texture that was soft and easy on the palate and it even held on for a long finish; it got first in its flight of 6 and then many eye openings once revealed. I love blind tastings.

2014 RIDGE WINERY MONTE BELLO SANTA CRUZ MOUNTAINS- although not predominately Merlot, anytime one brings a Ridge of anything, it`s always acceptable; this is comprised of 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc, 2% Petit Verdot; it was also excusable this is so young and unevolved because it does showcase some redeeming qualities that promise high rewards in a few decades; it had almost excessively generous amounts of blackberry and black cherry notes with significant oak influence; the tannins were fairly stiff and the finish was majorly dry; 3rd in its flight.

2004 PALMEYER NAPA MERLOT- 87% Merlot and 13% Cabernet Sauvignon; this full bodied wine was spicy and rich with blackberry, blueberry and black currant along with dried fruit notes of plum, and cherry; it had lots of depth and layers of complexity; I was thinking it was more like a Cab than Merlot; I liked it more than the rest as it came in 3rd in its flight of 6.

2011 SHAFER NAPA MERLOT- 76% Merlot, 14% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Malbec and 2% Petit Verdot; nice and spicy, coffee accented black cherry prevail in this fine medium plus bodied wine; it had a soft mouthfeel and long finish; 2nd in the flight of 6.

2000 CHATEAU LA CONSELLANTE POMEROL- I loved this with its inviting nose, subtle elegance and silky smooth texture; lots of leather infused blackberry and plum come through and hold on for a welcomed long finish; it seemed to get better in the glass and I held on to it to re-taste later and discovered more expressive nuances of all of the above; if others had done the same, my bet is it would have scored higher that 3rd in its flight.

1998 GUNDLACH-BUNDSCHU ESTATE VINEYARD SONOMA MERLOT- I was surprised to find this wine showed about as well as any on the night; surprised because I`ve had little of any wines from this producer other than Zinfandels over all their years even tho they`ve been around since the 1880s; our bottle was showing some age with some bricking, but the nose and flavour profile shined with lots of nice tertiary red and black fruit and a slight evidence of oak influence; red cherry actually prevailed over the other fruit in this somewhat balanced and softly textured Merlot; I had it #1 in its flight as did the group.

2009 FUQUE de NENIN POMEROL- a 2nd wine for this producer, it`s comprised of 95% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Franc; the colour was dark and youthful; the taste was mostly of black currant and the tannins were almost overwhelming all the way to the back end which finished off super dry; voted 4th in tis flight.

1996 CHATEAU LA POINTE POMEROL- 75% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Cabernet Franc; browning colour suggests an aged wine and the tertiary flavours confirmed such; the aromatics and the taste was redolent of dried black currant with a bit of spice; just past mid palate, it faded into the sunset and there was not too much left at the end; last in its flight.

2015 TEXTBOOK NAPA MERLOT- this supported the merits of blind tasting as it finished almost an unanimous first in its flight and if all had known it sells for under $20 and with an unfamiliar name to all but one, I doubt it would have been ranked so high; I had it #1 in the flight because it hit all of the sensory receptors with pleasurable emphasis; it had chocolate, liquorice and sandalwood accents to the black cherry/ berry fruit, soft tannins which allowed for a smooth mouthfeel giving it some elegance and a semblance of balance even in its early stage.

2006 O`SHAUGHNESSY HOWELL MOUNTAIN NAPA MERLOT- deceivingly youthful with its deep, dark purple colour and vibrant fruity aromatics, this shined brightly giving generous amounts of ripe, black cherry aided by some milk chocolate and cocoa coming in late; it was in nice balance, was full bodied and soft and easy on the palate; I got it 2nd in the flight as did the group.

2011 CAKEBREAD CELLARS NAPA MERLOT- this bottle got off to a good start with an inviting nose of fresh dark fruit which was pronounced in the taste profile with plum, blueberry and black cherry all present; it was soft and smooth, had a degree of finesse and finished on a high note with more coming in late; it scored mid range.

As always in a blind tasting, there were some surprises and new discoveries. Our group has a myriad of palates and the scoring gets very interesting and usually is all over the place as was the case on this night. Bottom line, it still comes down to individual preferences and I have to think everyone got something positive to take out of this tasting.


Please excuse typos and unintended auto-corrects

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