A Noble Bordeaux Grape Variety: Merlot
This month's picks from the Lodi Wine and Visitor Centerby Michael Perry
Merlot is a grape variety used all over the world to make classic wines. In France, there are more acres of Merlot planted than Cabernet Sauvignon. For red wine grapes grown in California, Merlot is third behind only Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel.
Merlot is often produced as a varietal wine and is a popular blend component with Cabernet Sauvignon. There are three main styles of Merlot-a soft, fruity, smooth wine with modest tannins; a fruity wine with more tannic structure; and, finally, a brawny, highly tannic style made in the profile of Cabernet Sauvignon.
Merlot offers a complex mix of aromas and flavors highlighted by plum, cassis, cherry, blueberry, and blackberry fruit. It can also exhibit vegetal notes of green olive, bell pepper, and mushroom. Tea, pine, eucalyptus, and mint notes are also common as is spice, chocolate, smoke, and vanilla derived from oak aging.
Merlot can lend itself to a wide array of food matching options. Cabernet-like Merlots pair well with grilled and charred meats. Softer, fruitier Merlots go well with salmon, mushroom-based dishes, and greens like chard and radicchio. Light-bodied Merlots go well with shellfish like prawns or scallops, especially if wrapped in a protein-rich food such as bacon or prosciutto.
Lodi grows more Merlot than anyone else in California! Try these when next shopping for Lodi Merlots. Cheers!
For more information: Visit the Lodi Wine and Visitor Center, and taste from a selection of over two hundred award-winning Lodi wines. 2545 W. Turner Rd., Lodi, (209) 367-4727, www.lodiwine.com
Stama Winery 2006 Merlot
Medium body with moderate tannin, cherry, leather notes, and a spicy oak finish. ($13) www.stamawinery.com
Vicarmont Vineyards and Winery 2007 Merlot
Medium body with hints of cherry and plum, mint, and oak. Tannic but not overpowering, with a firm cherry and oak finish. ($16) www.vmvineyards.com
Berghold Vineyards 2006 Merlot
Cherry, mint, green olive, and smoky oak flavors and aromas. Medium body with a nice mouth feel and mature tannins. ($22) www.bergholdvineyards.com
Abundance Vineyards 2007 Merlot
Red berry, anise, and earth flavors and aromas. Slightly tannic with a cherry and spicy oak finish. ($12) www.abundancevineyards.com
Oak Farm Vineyards
2005 Zinfandel - Lodi Appellation
Oak Farm Vineyards, located at the end of DeVries Road, was home to William DeVries, a well-regarded historical figure in San Joaquin County. The estate was built in 1864 and DeVries lived there until his death in 1908, according to a Sacramento Bee article.
His ranch was known throughout the San Joaquin Valley as one of the most magnificent and beautiful pieces of property within the state. DeVries was an enthusiastic lover of trees, particularly of oaks, and on the home ranch he never allowed a tree to be cut unless it was a menace, the newspaper reported upon his death.
Today, many of the property's oaks still stand and twenty acres of vineyards are harvested each year, but it's the entertainment accommodations that are worth the short ten-minute drive from Lodi. The property has been largely renovated with great attention to its heritage. It is an oasis in the country and your guests will appreciate the trip to be a part of it.
23627 N. DeVries Road
Lodi, (209) 365-6566