Posts Tagged ‘merlot’

Gibson 2005 Merlot & Royal Tokaji Aszú 2006

Friday, 25 March, 2011

Royal Tokaji Aszú 2006Gibson 2005 Reserve MerlotI haven’t posted any wines for a while. I’ve had several, but just haven’t had the time to photograph and review them. But these two were standouts so I’m back to describe them.

The 2005 Reserve Merlot from Gibson is a blend of two Merlot crops, from the Adelaide Hills and Barossa Valley, both in South Australia, with a total of 15% of Cabernet Sauvignon added in, also from both locations. Apparently this is little enough that it doesn’t need to be mentioned on the front label. Anyway, we had this wine at a Thai restaurant, with grilled salmon, and a beef pad khee mao – flavourful but neither dish very spicy. From the first sip I knew this was something special. It’s very complex, bursting with layers of different flavours that it took me some time to get to grips with. Wife held the back label of the bottle secret and we tried to list some flavours. I got an aroma of raspberry – it smells very fruity and simple. But the flavour is big and round and fills the mouth, with black cherry dominant to my tongue. There’s no hint of the mint you sometimes get with Merlot, but more of a dark fruit thing, with a subtle hint of cinnamon and maybe nutmeg. A light touch of oak comes through and some light tannin. And then the most extraordinary thing happens – the aftertaste is long and lingering, and both wife and myself picked up a creamy, milky sensation. After this, we referred to the back of the bottle, which listed stone fruits, musk, cinnamon, and almond. The milkiness clicked with the almond – a definite link there. Overall it was very pleasant and interesting, and it matched the food tolerably well, so a definite success.

And ever since I started getting into wine, I’ve been keen on trying some of the more exotic sweet offerings. I’d read about Hungarian Tokaji, but had never seen any in a local shop. Then when I went to San Francisco recently, I happened on a wine shop in Burlingame, and browsed around. When I spotted this bottle of Tokaji, I had to buy it. It survived the trip home in my luggage, and we cracked it the other day after dinner. It’s really different to any other dessert wine I’ve tried. Most are sweet, tending to syrupy, with orange and marmalade notes dominating. This one is much more tropical in outlook, with a bright golden yellow colour, and a thin-ness that is far from syrupy in the glass. It smells fresh and clean, fruity, with perhaps a hint of freshly cut grass. The taste is liquid sunshine, with pineapple coming through strongly, and hints of kiwifruit and lime. There’s a minerally, chemically mid-taste, slightly reminiscent of Riesling. Some dessert wines retain residual fermentation fizz, but there’s absolutely none here. The aftertaste is smooth and lingering, tending towards banana. It’s totally different to any other dessert wine I’ve tried, and very nice. I must keep an eye out for more.

Leconfield Coonawarra 2009 Merlot

Thursday, 9 September, 2010

Leconfield Coonawarra 2009 MerlotI read a review of this wine somewhere – I forget where. It was glowing. And with the wife having Merlot as her favourite varietal, I knew I had to find some bottles of it. Our local wine shop had Leconfield’s Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz, but no Merlot. I found a shelf label for it at another bottle shop, but they’d sold out. However, they managed to order some in and I grabbed them.

I must say, despite my wife’s opinion, I’ve never really been enamoured with any of the Merlots I’ve had before. But…

This was something else. Let’s start with the colour. It’s a deep, rich purple garnet colour, thick and opaque. This is the colour of wine a vampire would drink. It felt heavy in the glass. I know I’m probably imagining it, but this wine exuded a gravity and presence just by looking at it. The aroma was pretty much what I’ve come to expect from a Merlot by now. A berry-heavy fruitiness with a whiff of alcohol. Honestly I didn’t get much out of the smell beyond that, but I still need practice on the reds.

The flavour. Wow. The first thing you notice is the richness and roundness – it fills the mouth. It makes you want to talk in plummy English tones like Professor Henry Higgins. It has a real solidity to it, but velvety in softness. The taste was blackcurranty, maybe some dark cherry, a bit of plum, and a distinct hint of mint. There was some tannin there at the end, but soft and smooth, not harsh, creating a nice dryness in the mouth. Even in my limited experience, I could tell this was something a step above any other Merlot I’ve had before. Really good.

I might try to grab a few more bottles, and hang on to some for a few years – the label recommends cellaring for 5 to 10 years. I imagine it will be brilliant then.

Cabernet Merlot by Brad

Monday, 17 May, 2010

Cabernet Merlot by Brad
Here’s one of the wines we bought yesterday – we cracked it for dinner with lasagne. This is an inexpensive cabernet sauvignon/merlot blend from “Brad” in Western Australia’s Margaret River region. M. was drawn to it by the admittedly catchy pop art labels.

The back label claims tastes of dark chocolate and plummy blackcurrant with a touch of mint. I couldn’t detect any chocolate notes at all, but I got plum and blackcurrant, and a faint hint of mint in the aroma, though not the flavour.

Red wines are really difficult to wrap my head around. I’m more confident in picking the differences between various whites and identifying some of the flavour components, but the overwhelming taste I get from most reds is still “red wine flavour”. It’s really hard work dragging out something identifiable as the various fruity flavours that the wines claim to have. I can tell this isn’t spicy, like a shiraz, and that it’s probably one of either cabernet or merlot (or a blend) based on comparison to others I’ve had before, but actually identifying the specific flavour notes is really really hard. I fear I’m a bit biased by the labels on the back of the bottles, which usually claim something like blackcurrant or strawberry or whatever, and I just sip the wine and nod, and go, “uh, huh, yeah, I can taste that.” I’m trying not to, but it’s hard knowing how much that’s influencing me. At least with this one I can positively deny being able to taste anything resembling chocolate!

But anyway, the label art is cool.

Evans & Tate 2007 Margaret River Merlot

Sunday, 21 March, 2010

Evans & Tate 2007 Margaret River Merlot
We wanted to try a merlot from Chile, and the local wine shop has a selection of imported wines in a nook at the back, including some from Chile. Unfortunately, when we went in and had a look, everything from Chile was either malbec or carménère. I didn’t remember anything about these varietals from my reading, so we asked the woman at the counter what they were like. I figured she’d have a good idea, but alas she had no experience with these wines and could only give us an, “I think they’re a bit like cab sav.”

I thought this was a bit disappointing for someone working in a specialty wine shop (as opposed to a more generic liquor shop, this place doesn’t sell beer or spirits, just wines). The upshot was we decided not to risk it this time and went for a merlot from Western Australia instead. There’s a lot of choice if you stick within Australia, so we semi-randomly grabbed this one, sitting in the middle of the price range.

Evans & Tate is a fairly big name brand in wines, and a gold medal – albeit as specialised as “best dry merlot” in the Royal Queensland Wine Show – promised it should be reasonable. We had it with a meal from a local Indian restaurant, with which it went reasonably well.

I have to say I’m finding it difficult to pull specific taste notes out of red wines in isolation – without contrasting styles of wine to compare against. I sniff, and then swill it around in my mouth, searching for a name to assign to the flavour, and I have trouble getting past “fruit” to anything more specific. I think this one had an aroma of cherries mixed in there, and honestly the only flavour note I got out of it apart from “fruity red wine” was a hint of liquorice at the end. It was pleasant, but nothing astounding.

More practice needed!