October 2004                              


Wines of the month - Paul DeRose

As we transition into Autumn and more hearty foods and cooler nights, it makes sense to start thinking and drinking reds.

The wine that makes the cross over from whites to reds easy is Merlot, which ranges from light and fruity to dense and fruity, with the emphasis on fruit. Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon are the two major red grapes of Bordeaux, where they are blended, although neither grape is mentioned on most Bordeaux labels. In the US and in northern Italy many popular wines are made with a majority of Merlot and show off the name of the grape on the label. Merlot can be full and rich, but is more accessible than Cabernet when first released. Its smoothness and fruity flavor make Merlot a good choice for a cocktail, but it also goes well with most foods, as long as they are not too spicy or heavy. Merlot tends to be less consistent from vintage to vintage than some other grapes, but 2001 was very successful in California, Washington state and northern Italy.

Below I have listed some of my favorites in order of preference with their average retail price alongside. Feel free to direct any questions or comments to me at deroseline@comcast.net.

• Chateau St. Jean – Sonoma County ($22) *
• Blackstone – Napa Valley ($16) *
• Falesco - Merlot dell'Umbria ($17) *
• Robert Mondavi – Napa Valley ($20) *
• Chateau St. Michelle - Washington ($14) *
• Markham – Napa Valley ($20) *
• Franciscan – Napa Valley ($20) *
• Columbia Crest – Grand Estates, Washington ($10) *
• Sebastiani – Sonoma County ($15) *
• Blackstone – California ($10) *
• Belmondo – Merlot delle Venezie ($6) *

* indicates available in Montgomery County