Category Archives: Merlot

My musings on the Merlots I’ve met.

WINE REVIEW: Bota Box Merlot 2010 – Manteca, California

From the box: ‘The flavor is in the box. Our Merlot has rich aromas of blackberry and plum that perfectly complement full bodied flavors of black cherries, plums, currants, and a toasty oak finish. Try it with prime rib, steak, or your favorite pasta with a rich, meaty tomato sauce.’ 

I never thought I would actually try these wines in the box, new fangled thingies but curiosity got the best of me. I picked up a Bota Box Merlot 2010 and set up to give it a try. “Gee” I thought as I drove home “I really hope I at least can tolerate this wine because it is the equivalent of four 750 ML bottles of wine”.

I’ve been intrigued by the idea of the wine box for awhile now. Yes, it doesn’t have a cork like I like it but it is more ecological in some ways. They use recycled paper and 100% post consumer fiber to make the packaging. It’s also bonded with corn starch instead of glue and utilizes soy-based inks. There’s also less waste because of the vacuumed sealed spout and container there’s no rush to have to finish a bottle of wine because it might go bad on you.

Now I did have a bit of reluctance to try these boxed wines for many reasons. First, there’s the snob factor. I will admit it. I can be a little bit of a wine snob sometimes and I traditionally like corks in my wine not nozzles. The boxed wine thing kind of reminded me of a college keg party. Now, ladies and gentlemen, we have kegs of WINE!

Secondly, there was fear. I had never had this wine before and I worried that I would get stuck with a LOT of wine that I didn’t like. Easy enough to get rid of if you have lots of unknowning, wine drinking visitors but alas we do not so it would mean I would have to drink it all or throw away $17 worth of wine. Neither was appealing to me.

Thirdly, it’s SQUARE! Who drinks wine from a SQUARE bottle. Have I no standards? What will the neighbors think? Will I be ostracized from the wine drinking community for a crime such as this?

Well, I figured if I was going to try it now was as good a time as any. I did like the idea that I could have it in my refrigerator (yes, I live in Florida people and room temperature is just too hot most of the year to drink even red wine at) and have a glass of wine anytime I wanted without worrying about leaving a half drunk bottle of wine to go bad. Though recently I’ve taken to buying those little four packs of wine in order to have a glass on hand but you don’t get a lot of choices of brands that way either. It works though.

So I had my first glass of my Bota Boxed wine and was relieved to find that it was a decent wine. I am not saying it’s great like a nice Bordeaux but I think it has it’s place in society. It was fruity and had hints of plums and blackberries and had a nice smooth finish as well.

My overall impression is that it’s a great thing to have on hand for those times when you just want one or two glasses of wine without the worry of what to do with the other half of the bottle once you open it. It would also be good for those times when you have a bunch of people over for a party or get together and they aren’t too discerning over what they’re drinking. I don’t think you’d want to whip this box out when you have a real wine snob visiting or say royalty or famous people milling about. (What? You don’t have royalty and famous people visiting your house regularly? Hmmm…that’s interesting!)

Anyway, I would give this wine a rating of 84. It’s a nice wine for every day or when you don’t want to try something new and just want a glass of wine.

If you’ve tried any of these boxes of wine please tell me what you think. What brand did you try and what’s your opinion of it?

Little Roo Merlot – South Eastern Australia

McWilliam’s Hanwood Estate Merlot – South Eastern Australia – 2008

Columbia-Crest Two Vines 2008 – Washington State

Fish Eye Merlot 2010 – South Eastern Australia

Mouton Cadet Bordeaux 2007 – Bordeaux, France

From the label: ‘Created in 1930 by my father, the legendary Baron Philippe, winegrower and poet, Mouton Cadet Rouge combines the Bordeaux winemaking tradition with the values of authenticity and exacting standards that have always been the pride of our family. In an elegant bouquet of flavours, it thus unites several fine appellations of the Bordeaux region, planted with classic grape varieties: Merlot 65%, Cabernet Sauvignon 20%, Cabernet Franc 15%. Through its balance, roundness and ageing capacity, the fruits of generous Nature and the work of human hands, Mouton Cadet Rouge expresses all the richness and diversity of one of the world’s foremost winegrowing areas.’ – Philippine de Rothschild

Website: http://www.MoutonCadet.com

Price: $10.99

I received this bottle of Bordeaux from my brother as a Christmas gift. He told me that this was on of the first real bottles of wine that he had bought when he first got into wines. He also stated that he always has a bottle of Mouton Cadet in his wine collection to be called upon when he has a bad day. It offers him comfort and he hoped it would do the same for me. I loved the fact that this bottle of wine meant so much to him that he wanted to share it with me and enhance my new found passion for wine.

I decided that I would have this bottle of wine for a special occasion so I chose to have it with a special Valentine’s Day dinner with my love, Matt. I served it with Spaghetti Carbonara and a dessert of Creme Brulee.

This clear, ruby red wine boasts a fruity bouquet of plums, grapes, and vanilla. The taste was full of plums with a hint of vanilla and a slight dash of spiciness. It had a nice light and quick finish as well.

Overall I really liked this wine and have ranked it in my top red wines. I rated this wine at 96 points. I really enjoyed this wine and will do the same as my brother and keep a bottle in my wine rack for those days when I want a dependable wine to celebrate with or comfort me.

Sterling Vintner’s Collection Meritage 2008 – Central Coast, Sonoma, California

From the label: ‘Our Meritage is a classic blend of Cabernet Sauvignon 57%, Merlot 37%, Cabernet Franc 3%, Petit Verdot 2%, and Malbec 1% from some of California’s best appellations. This richly textured wine has flavors of cherry, chocolate, black raspberry and vanilla, which lead to a full, lingering finish. Enjoy our Meritage with grilled or roasted meats and hearty vegetables.’

Website: http://www.sterlingvineyards.com

This nice Meritage from the Central Coast of California (Sonoma) was a really nice wine. It was my first experience with a Meritage and I found it quite nice.

The color was a deep but clear garnet color and the bouquet was jammy, with hints of vanilla, cherries, and tobacco.

This medium bodied wine had a taste was heavily jammy. I used to wonder what people meant by ‘jammy’ in reviews but trust me once you have a wine that is actually ‘jammy’ you’ll know it immediately. It also tasted slightly of oak.

It had a medium finish. I found this wine to be very enjoyable. I would definitely buy it again. Also, I like to mentioned that this wine was also vinted and bottled at Sterling. I like wines that are produced and bottled at the vineyard they were grown at. I feel it creates a more predictable and dependable wine because the people producing the wine know exactly what to expect from their own grapes.

I give this wine a rating of 86.

Sebastiani Merlot 2006 – Sonoma County, CA

From the back label: ‘Our Sonoma County wines are multi-vineyard blends sourced from premium wine growing sites throughout the county. 2006, with its long, mild fall, heightened Merlot aromas and flavors of blueberry, black cherry, and black tea. Aging in both American and French Oak barrels for eight months gave this wine its silky texture and nuances of mocha and vanilla. Enjoy with roasted meats and savory stews.’

Price: $12.99

I have to be completely honest with you. I didn’t really like this wine at all. It was too harsh for my taste. It was very spicy, oaky and….well, just too harsh.

I’ve heard that the best wines come from wineries that grow, produce and bottle their wine on site and this wine may be the wine that puts legs under my table of belief in that subject. The reason being that the last couple of wines that I really like were indeed grown, produced, and bottled on site at a family vineyard. Is this a coincidence or reality? I don’t really know but I now have my interest piqued on this subject and you can be sure that I’ll be watching to see if it is indeed true or not.

So my overall feeling on this wine is that it’s not my cup of tea. Maybe 2006 was a bad year for Merlots for this vineyard or maybe the multi-vineyard sourcing isn’t working for Sebastiani. I don’t know. It’s possible that it’s not really suited for pure drinking meaning that maybe it needs to be had with a hearty meat dish or at least with something bold. I drank this wine by itself without any food influencing its aroma and taste.

Overall I give this wine a rating of 75.

Penfolds Koonunga Hill – Cabernet Merlot 2007 -South Australia

From the back label: ‘Elegantly structured Cabernet Sauvignon is complimented by generous Merlot in this classic blend. Spicy oak seamlessly integrates with the redcurrant, plum, and summer pudding aromatics.’

Price: $11.99

This was the first time that I am aware of that I’ve drank a wine with a mix of Cabernet Sauvignon (67%) and Merlot (33%) so I didn’t know what to expect. I mean I like them both separately so I took the leap of faith that it would have to be at least decent plus the brand was a recommendation from a friend who shares similar taste in wine.

The color of this wine is a dark burgundy/garnet color and the bouquet is heavily slanted in the plum direction. It also has a very spicy, oaky aroma. It’s a medium to full bodied wine that tastes of lovely plums and chocolate as well as a slightly peppery slant. It ends with a medium lasting finish.

This wine paired very well with my warm goat cheese salad with cranberries, pears and field greens. The bold flavors of this meal stood up well to the bold flavor of this wine. The wine also paired quite well with the Lindt Milk Chocolate Truffle that I ate afterward. 🙂

Overall I found this wine to be quite nice especially after aerating it once. It does need a little breathing room to develop it’s flavors and aromas as well as to tone down the spiciness a bit. I gave this wine a score of 87. It’s a very enjoyable and nice wine.

Interesting Wine Facts: Fact #1 – Serve at Room Temperature

Here I would like to introduce you to a new series of posts called ‘Interesting Wine Facts’. This is where I will share a few interesting facts that I’ve learned about wines recently. So without further ado here’s fact #1.

FACT #1: Red wine should be served at a temperature of 65 degrees.

Most people have heard that red wine should be served at room temperature and never put in the fridge. The fact is that in the old days in European wine country that was indeed true and for the most part is still true however, ‘room temperature’ there is different then say here in Florida. If I serve my red wine at room temperature you’re going to get a nice hot wine most of the time.

The fact is that it is best to serve wines at their suggested temperature rather than some arbitrary, nondescript instruction of ‘serve at room temperature’. The actual  serving temperature for most red wines is 65 degrees F. If you are in a cooler  climate you probably can achieve that by leaving the wine at ‘room temperature’ but if you’re in a warmer climate it’s perfectly okay to put the bottle in the refrigerator for an hour or so, use a bucket of ice to chill it for 15 to 20 minutes, or any other method to get it to reach its optimal temperature. No one is going to take your head off for doing that especially if they really know their wines.