Back to School

lecole.jpg“I’m not drinkin’ any &%#*&$# merlot!”

The movie that kick started pinot noir sales had the opposite effect on merlot sales. Although the Sideways slap was no news to wine geeks, who had long known that merlot was the worst value in the market. Merlot, once the darling of industrial wine world, was suddenly out. Like a congressman caught paging too many pages, one day merlot was hot and the next it was not. Those in the wine-know snickered with glee.

Perhaps now the dust is settled we all need to go back to school on merlot. After all, they make a pretty good one in France that they call Petrus. You would be hard pressed to find a more expensive wine than Petrus, although I doubt that most of those that gulp it because of the price alone actually know their drinking merlot.  There’s a lot of excellent merlot being made in Bordeaux and Washington State and to blow it off is to miss some outstanding wines.

I can think of no better place to go back school on merlot than the 2002 L’Ecole No. 41 Columbia Valley Merlot. This wine is a svelte beauty that came alive paired with some grilled lamb chops. Seamlessly smooth and velvety without any heaviness, the bright ripe plum fruit is highlighted with spicy oak and a refreshing herbal touch that is dominated by a lively minty-ness laced with traces of thyme and sage. I really loved the lean, angular character that well carried the ripe fruit flavors. I would only recommend short term aging for this wine because it is so good to drink right now, but a year or two more in a good cellar is sure to add complexity. A blend of 80% merlot, 12% cabernet franc, 7% cabernet sauvignon and 1 % carmenere aged 18 months in French and American oak.

I’m guess I’m drinkin’ &%#*&$# merlot again.