You’ll hear it from many wine industry professionals these days: Merlot is back.
That statement can evoke a curious look from the generation of wine drinkers who never saw the movie “Sideways” as they try to figure out, “Where did Merlot go in the
The truth is, Merlot didn’t really go anywhere, except in some consumers’ minds because “Sideways” treated it badly.
As one of the original six “Noble Grapes,” Merlot was — and still is — a bedrock of red Bordeaux wine in France. One of the most famous and expensive wines in the world, the Pomerol Bordeaux Château Pétrus, is made entirely of Merlot and Right Bank Bordeaux red wines are nearly all Merlot-driven blends.
“Sideways” wasn’t the only reason Merlot fell on hard times; it was also because many California wineries stopped producing Merlots that brought out the best in the grape, choosing instead to target a wider consumer market with insipid, light-bodied wines with little character.
Since “Sideways” most California wineries have returned to making Merlots in a way that serves the Noble Grape justice (although some never stopped doing that). And in that sense, California Merlot is indeed back.
During the month of March at West Indies Wine Company, Kendall-Jackson’s Sonoma County Vintner’s Reserve Merlot is on sale for $21.49 per bottle. Since Kendall-Jackson’s quality-to-price ratio always represents good value on all of its wines, this Merlot at that price offers tremendous value. The wine is ready to drink now with velvety soft tannins, black cherry and plum flavours and just the right amount of oak ageing to add richness and elegance. It’s still structured and priced to be a crowd-pleaser, but made with the care Merlot deserves.