Merlot is an important grape varietal from the Bordeaux region of France. Much-maligned by Hollywood in the movie Sideways, it fell out of favor after the release of that movie in 2004. In the decade before the movie was released, Merlot was the darling of the wine world because of it’s fruit-forward flavors, relative lack of tannins and ease of pronunciation. This popularity, however, led to Merlot being planted in areas that were not suitable for its cultivation. Consequently, the wines from these poorly-chosen regions had flavors of bell pepper and olives. Ack.
El Dorado County-grown Merlot is most often found on decomposed granite soils that aggressively drain. The Italians say that grapes ‘don’t like their feet wet’, so our quick-draining soils are optimal for growing this variety. Our most notable accomplishment with Merlot was a 4-star Gold Medal at the Orange County Fair for our 2010 Merlot. This notoriety led to an invite from the Orange County Fair for Mike to be a wine judge at their competition.
Our Merlots are grown at Gold Hill Vineyard near Coloma and Sauber Vineyard near pretty much nothing. Our style of velvety-smooth fruit with a hint of mocha and atomized chocolate (think of taking the top off of a tin of Nestle’s Quick) has made our Merlots a benchmark for the variety in the Sierra Foothills. We hope you have some to enjoy during the all-too-short month of February.