SANTA MARGHERITA 'VERSATO' MERLOT 2002 (PATERNO), Veneto, Italy, 12.5% XD, #933333 $16.95*
Vintages release June 11, 2005. Vintages notes: "... This partly barrique-aged Merlot is exceptionally versatile. Try with seared tuna, roast chicken, beef or pasta in tomato sauce." The website says: "Versato means highly skilled and competent in Italian. This merlot is created exclusively from the grapes grown in the Eastern part of the Veneto region, where the moderate climate and clay soil allows slow ripening for maximum flavor development. A brillant ruby-red with purple overtones. A delicate full nose with elegant hints of morello cherries and plum tinged with vanilla and violet flowers. A fresh, slightly tannic taste with a velvetly texture." My notes: Deep ruby with a soft warm plum nose. Medium-bodied dark cherries with a sharpness that masks the tannin and velvet - cellaring for another year might soften. A food wine rather than a sipper. Have with spicy pasta, salami pizzas, grilled ribs,etc. *The Vintages Shopping LIst (see website) prices at $14.95.
TRINCHERO 'FAMILY SELECTION' MERLOT 2003 (SUTTER), California, USA, 11.0% D, #550566 $16.95
Vintages release June 11, 2005 Vintages notes: "Lovely plum and cedar aromas and flavours. Dry, ripe, with nice tannin tones. Good balance and attractively priced. (David Churchill, Vintages, April 2005)" The website says: "Our 2003 Trinchero Family Merlot was fermented using the rack-and-return method (Delestage) favored by many top Bordeaux chateaux. During this process we rack the fermenting wine into an empty tank, allowing the cap to settle to the bottom. We then return the wine back to that original tank, splashing the juice over the cap. This helps to develop deeper color and greater flavor extraction. It also gives us the opportunity to remove seeds... After a 14-day maceration, the wine was transferred to a combination of new and used American (63%) French (35%) and Hungary (1%) oak barrels. To preserve the wine's bright fruit and rich texture, it was bottled unfiltered. ... The 2003 merlot is dark, rich, lush and remarkably smooth. It delivers the cedar, plum, ripe cherry and cassis character one associates with this noble grape. " My notes: A deep ruby with a soft raspberry and cedar nose, a ripasso nose and flavour. Hardly the fruit of the 2001 some flatness and more tannin in the finish. Pass as a sipper but OK with meat, potatoes and a gravy sauce, not too spicy. The 2001 and 2002 were tasted February 7, 2005 each vintage being entirely different.