The first is a wine my friend Greg brought over. Apparently he was introduced to it by the talented Spago Sommelier Christopher Miller. It was a Spanish white called NUN Vinya dels Taus 2006. It is made from a grape called XARELLO, one I had never even heard of and it was simply delicious. Had I tasted this wine blind I would have thought white Rhone for sure. Possibly even Roussanne or at least some of it in it. The aromatics are little bit more floral than Roussanne, but still in that camp, with a certain waxy quality. This comes out even more so on the palate, where the wine is very creamy and almost dense, but with great minerality and livliness. A very distinct and interesting and most importantly delicious wine. I have no idea what it costs, but I know I am going to find some more.
The second wine was unexpected because it was a Merlot. I realized as I was delightlfully sipping away that I hardly ever drink Merlot. That poor variety has been so shafted a number of years ago that it all but disappeared from the radar screen. How many times do ever read about Merlot? But it is not the grape's fault. It obviously can be quite charming and delicious as this wine, the 2008 Switchback Ridge Merlot was proof of. It was a gorgeously voluptuous wine with kirsch and all sorts of berry fruits in both the nose and on the palate. No slouch, but not at all heavy or clumsy. To the contrary, it had a lovely, soft and supple texture, but also enough of a framework to hold it's shape. Really a very sophisticated wine, but where the sophistication comes in the form of sumptuousness, not the scratching your head kind.
Merlot! It can be done.
You are welcome.