Monday, February 07, 2005

3 Merlots: California, Australia

STERLING VINEYARDS VINTNERS COLLECTION MERLOT 2001, Napa, California, 13.5%, #622837 $15.45

My notes: A bright aromatic sipper with enough tannin and acid to pair with a variety of meat dishes. A rich ruby colour with soft berry/cherry aromas followed by medium-bodied supple fruit roundness - reminded me of chocolate-dipped cherries. Sterling Vineyards releases a price range of wines with Vintners Collection being the lowest - but, I think, good value. The weather in 2001 started out as cool and then bud growth accelerated with sustained warmer weather leading to a quick harvest of fully ripened fruit. The 2002 vintage benefited from a longer growing season and could be another worthwhile cellaring wine - don't know if/when 2002 will show up at the LCBO. A General listing.

WOLF BLASS CABERNET MERLOT 1999, South Australia, 13.0%, #611483 $16.95

LCBO describes this as: "Deep ruby; mint, cassis and chocolate aromas; big toasty fruit flavours, well balanced." My notes: I agree (but don't know what 'toasty' does to fruit). Sufficiently full-bodied and balanced for grilled or roasted red meats, bbq'd ribs or spicy italian sausage pastas. Cellared April 2002, now tannins and acids have mellowed for dry wine sipping or with a meal. Some pleasing tannin still present. A General listing.

TRINCHERO FAMILY SELECTION MERLOT 2001,(and 2002) San Luis Obisco, California, 13.5%, #550566* $18.95

My notes: A nose of soft blackberry with a spicy violet edge, colour is a clear ruby red. Flavours are soft as well; cherries, touch of cedar with lighter tannins and acid. Cellared November 2003 the raspberry aromas rose fragrantly from the glass but not now... pleasant to sip, too soft for a spicy dish - likely lamb, bbq'd chicken or 'sweet' pizza. The 2002 vintage is on some shelves but not recommended. Predominant herbaceous flavours replace the fruit which I dont think will cellar out - and LCBO reduced the 2002 price to $13.50. A General listing.

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