Retailer Wine Selections

For this issue, we asked members of the Beverage Dynamics National Retailer Wine Panel to recommend some of their favorite merlots. As always, these selections include brief tasting notes, a rating and the wine’€™s retail price (which varies from store to store and market to market). If you’€™re a retail beverage professional who would like to learn about participating in our panel, call Richard Brandes at 212-353-3832, or email him at rbrandes@specialtyim.com .

FIVE STARS

(95) Pedestal Columbia Valley Merlot 2009 (Washington State). This blockbuster Merlot showcases the depth and complexity Merlot can achieve in Washington State. Packed with black fruit, cocoa powder accents and plenty of spice, there’€™s nice lift and a juicy berry quality on the finish. ($60)

(95) Rutherford Hill Barrel Select Red Blend 2008 (California). Made from 77% merlot, 14% cabernet sauvignon, 9% cabernet franc; beautifully structured with an intense floral bouquet and lush black fruit flavors; aging for 21 months in French barriques adds soft, silky tannins for perfect balance; nice now, it will cellar for several years for optimum enjoyment. ($30)

(95) Frog’€™s Leap Merlot 2010 (California). Sustainable farming reveals a very rich merlot; flavors of chocolate and blueberries with balanced acidity; delicious. ($40)

(93) Charles Krug Napa Valley Merlot 2010 (California). A serious merlot aged in 20 months of French oak; rich, intense and polished with blueberry, blackberry, black cherry and mocha flavors that come together perfectly giving way to a 20-second long finish showing undertones of vanilla and cedar. ($20)

(93) Brian Carter Le Coursier 2008 (Washington State). Brian Carter continues to craft beautiful wines that express the Columbia Valley terrior perfectly; exceptionally well balanced with firm, but ripe tannins, a crisp and refreshing acidity, and lovely flavors that run the gamut from darker black fruits to ripe red berries interwoven with subtle notes of cedar and vanilla. ($33)

(93) Cheslea Goldschmidt Alexander Valley Merlot 2011 (California). The100% merlot is impressive; bright cherry fruit, herbs and zesty spice. Balanced with a seamless texture; excellent food wine. ($18)

(93) Line 39 Central Coast Merlot 2011 (California). Soft and ripe on the nose and palate with hints of blueberry, black cherry, and plum; a bit of coffee/mocha balances with supple tannins on the finish; lovely and easy-to-enjoy, it’€™s also an excellent value. ($12)

(93) Chateau Barrail Chevrol Fronsac Bordeaux 2010 (France). Made from 80% merlot, 15% cabernet franc, 5% cabernet sauvignon in a very classic and classy style; aromas of wildflower, blackberry, and ‘€œLa Garrigue’€ lead to rich flavors of cassis and other black fruits with nuances of Fronsac’€™s earthiness; while the wine is delightful now, you’€™ll be rewarded by 3-5 years of cellaring. ($14)

(92) Seavy Napa Valley Merlot 2007 (California). Excellent extraction and color, smooth integrated balanced tannins behind the big refined fruits; hint of cedar and pencil lead behind the raspberries and blackberries; fine finish. ($46)

(92) J. Lohr Paso Robles Merlot 2010 (California). Medium-bodied wine with concentrated depth; raspberry and red currant undertones; smooth tannins; perfect with grilled meats. ($16)

(92) Otis Kenyon Walla Walla Merlot 2010 (Washington State). This is a powerful styled merlot that manages to retain a great degree of elegance and grace; intense flavors of brambly blueberry and cedar open up to a dark, richly flavored and long-lasting finish. ($30)

(92) Sheridan Mystique 2011 (Washington State). There is a huge core of blackberries, currants, figs, and clove; the rich fruit flavors combine nicely with dense and polished tannins to give this wine a beautiful and firm texture. ($30)

(92) Reynolds Family Winery Stags Leap Merlot 2008 (California). From the famous Stags Leap District vineyards, this elegant merlot has a nose of bright blueberries and vanilla with a touch of dark cherries and subtle smoky characteristics; although spicy in the front of the pallet, it has a soft and silky finish.($54)

(92) Markham Napa Valley Merlot 2010 (California). A merlot that in some ways shows as a cabernet; round, luscious fruit with a balanced tannic structure add to the beautiful mouthfeel; the mid-palate offers plum and currant with a pleasing slightly coffee finish; delicious. ($23)

(92) Artesa Elements Sonoma Merlot 2010 (California). Raspberry and cherry complemented by spice and vanilla; soft tannins round out a delicious merlot. ($16)

(92) Matanzas Creek Winery Bennett Valley Sonoma Merlot 2007 (California). This Bennett Valley merlot is made from 85% merlot plus about 15% cabernet sauvignon from Knights Valley; classic merlot aromas of red currant and fresh herbs – thyme, sage – plus a dusting of clove leading to bright and juicy flavors of black currant, blueberry, licorice and spice; loads of juicy acidity for a California merlot make this a nice, palate-cleansing match for richer meat dishes. ($24)

(92) Cousino Macul Don Matias Reserva Merlot 2011 (Chile). Wonderfully balanced, this full-bodied merlot is loaded with aromas of ripe plums, raspberry and spice; aged eight months in French oak, which adds subtle cedar notes and softens the tannins leading to a long, refined finish. ($15)

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