About the Noble Grape Challenge
Wine Folly created the Noble Grape Challenge as a way to learn the spectrum of wine flavours found in red and white wines. Taking nine reds and nine whites, we’ll go through them from lightest to darkest, learning about the key characteristics and flavours of each.
Get to Know Merlot
Merlot often gets a lot of hate in the wine world, which isn’t something I agree with. Merlot will always have a place in my heart because it was the first varietal I got to know when I started getting more serious about wine. Don’t expect to hear me muttering these words any time soon.
Merlots are pretty middle of the road in terms of body, which is probably part of why they get a bad rap. I think the medium body makes a Merlot quite approachable, especially since it’s often accompanied by a really nice softness on the palate. Soft and versatile – that’s Merlot to a tee.
Merlot grapes are grown a lot in France, California (and Washington State) and Italy. Since France and Italy like to blend their grapes I found it a little challenging to find an affordable bottle that was a good price, but I eventually settled on one from California.
Flavours vary depending on whether the grapes were grown in a warm or cold climate, but for California Merlots the flavours that tend to stick out are red berries (raspberry, cherry) and some chocolate flavours (mocha, cocoa). I like that Merlots have both zing and depth in their flavour.
To try out Merlot I tasted Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi 2013 Merlot.
The colour is red with some brownish undertones, and is more opaque than the wines we’ve tried so far in the Noble Grape Challenge. The nose has a bit of wood and smoke on it, which I always love smelling. The flavour was very smooth and inviting – the typical Merlot softness is definitely there. There’s a bit of zingy tannin on the finish, which I’m not a fan of, but overall I like the flavour. I didn’t finish the bottle for this tasting so I’m hoping that the natural oxidation that happens when you open a bottle will help mellow the zing.
It’s in line with what I expect from a Merlot, and it’s a good wine for the price. If you’re looking for something that’s a step up I would recommend checking out something from Robert Mondavi Winery (as opposed to the Woodbridge line) or Beringer.
Have you tried any Merlots lately? What did you think?
Next up in the NGC – Sangiovese!