RyanANNAPOLIS


quality posts: 2 Private Messages RyanANNAPOLIS
salexiswinesjg wrote:John Gibson here. I thought I would weigh in regarding the "plight" of Merlot. When the movie Sideways came out in 2004, there was the historic line that Miles said that he wasn't going drink and f*ing Merlot. We saw Merlot sales drop by 50% in less than 3 months. Conversely, the sales of Central Coast Pinot Noir skyrocketed. It was amazing that one line in one movie could have that much effect on people's perceptions. I will be the first to admit that Merlot was over planted in every corner of California and most of the wines made deserved the negative comment. Merlot can be a very vigorous vine and without proper trellising and canopy management, it will produce herbal and veggy wines. Those of us who are committed to producing a fine Merlot were the victims of the Sideways backlash.



Thanks for elaborating on this. The irony here is that Miles' coveted Cheval Blanc contains a good deal of Merlot!

btphillips


quality posts: 4 Private Messages btphillips
salexiswinesjg wrote:John Gibson here. I thought I would weigh in regarding the "plight" of Merlot. When the movie Sideways came out in 2004, there was the historic line that Miles said that he wasn't going drink and f*ing Merlot. We saw Merlot sales drop by 50% in less than 3 months. Conversely, the sales of Central Coast Pinot Noir skyrocketed. It was amazing that one line in one movie could have that much effect on people's perceptions. I will be the first to admit that Merlot was over planted in every corner of California and most of the wines made deserved the negative comment. Merlot can be a very vigorous vine and without proper trellising and canopy management, it will produce herbal and veggy wines. Those of us who are committed to producing a fine Merlot were the victims of the Sideways backlash.



Wow. I knew it was bad after sideways, but 50% is still a shocking number. Still a great line though! I sometimes break it out to get people to stop drinking my high quality merlot so there's more for me!

I'm NOT drinking any chardonnay!

moondigger


quality posts: 11 Private Messages moondigger
salexiswinesjg wrote:When the movie Sideways came out in 2004, there was the historic line that Miles said that he wasn't going drink and f*ing Merlot. We saw Merlot sales drop by 50% in less than 3 months. Conversely, the sales of Central Coast Pinot Noir skyrocketed. It was amazing that one line in one movie could have that much effect on people's perceptions.


We just re-watched SIDEWAYS a couple weeks ago. I think the backlash against Merlot (in general, not specifically yours) was a long time coming. I remember when I first saw the movie (in the theater) I laughed at that line, but also thought "tell it like it is." It seemed like everybody I knew thought plonk Merlot was the bottle they should gift or contribute to those hosting dinners or parties. I can't count how many bottles I received as gifts (not just for hosting; also for birthdays, Christmas, etc.) when friends or family couldn't think of something else. "Oh, he likes wine... let's get him a bottle of Merlot." I am/was too polite to do anything other than accept these gifts with good grace, and (usually) pop the cork right away, hoping the gift-giver would consume most of it anyway. An acquaintance of mine used to draw the word out ("Ooh, Merrllowwww") and say it in a somewhat whispery voice as if it was just the best thing ever.

Now I will say that I understood the appeal for folks who weren't really wine drinkers, or who only liked sweet whites and white Zin. The vast majority of the Merlot on the market was (still is?) simple fruit, smooth, with little or no tannin. That style of Merlot was a red they could quickly warm up to.

But I liked Pinot Noirs and some Cabernets best at the time, so the proliferation of Merlot was annoying. Miles' loving admiration of Pinot Noir and his angry dismissal of Merlot in that movie really struck home with me.

All that aside, I do occasionally pick up a bottle of Merlot, but only if I hear from people I trust that a particular bottle is worthy, and not that overly simple/mass produced style that was so popular.

I admit that the tasting notes posted here make the Salexis Merlots sound appealing, but I'm currently on a SIWBM. I have way too much wine at the moment and not nearly enough temperature-controlled storage for it all. (My chiller will only store about 40 bottles.) If I don't have most of these bottles consumed before June, they'll get cooked.

Cheers.

fredrinaldi


quality posts: 33 Private Messages fredrinaldi
losthighwayz wrote:Fred: you will enjoy this. This is a CA Cab lover's Merlot. At least that's what I was thinking as I drank it.


Some of the Merlots I have gotten here were great, Medlock Ames bought in 2011 comes to mind, I did buy this for myself (SHOCK !!) But a very good Merlot will stand up to a good Cab anyday.

jmdavidson


quality posts: 54 Private Messages jmdavidson
fredrinaldi wrote:Some of the Merlots I have gotten here were great, Medlock Ames bought in 2011 comes to mind, I did buy this for myself (SHOCK !!) But a very good Merlot will stand up to a good Cab anyday.



This will stand up to a good cab. Wise purchase Fred.

salexiswinesjg


quality posts: 3 Private Messages salexiswinesjg

Hi Ryan, Thanks for your commentary. All would have been forgotten if when Miles was drinking the Cheval Blanc, if he would have said "Now that's a great Merlot!" I tasted at Cheval Blanc, Ausone, and Petrus while I was there and their wines are between 95% and 97% Merlot with the balance usually Cabernet Franc. Truly great wines.


RyanANNAPOLIS wrote:Thanks for elaborating on this. The irony here is that Miles' coveted Cheval Blanc contains a good deal of Merlot!



jmdavidson


quality posts: 54 Private Messages jmdavidson

On March 2nd, our local paper, the Chicago Tribune, ran an article about Rediscovering Merlot-The much maligned grape is worth rediscovering.

http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2013-03-02/features/sc-food-0301-wine-merlot-20130302_1_merlot-pinot-cabernet

Maybe Merlot can make a little comeback yet.

rpm


quality posts: 167 Private Messages rpm
salexiswinesjg wrote:Hi Ryan, Thanks for your commentary. All would have been forgotten if when Miles was drinking the Cheval Blanc, if he would have said "Now that's a great Merlot!" I tasted at Cheval Blanc, Ausone, and Petrus while I was there and their wines are between 95% and 97% Merlot with the balance usually Cabernet Franc. Truly great wines.



I wrote a post, but it won't post.

Wine-tasting in 8 words:
Pull lots of corks!
Remember what you taste!

RyanANNAPOLIS


quality posts: 2 Private Messages RyanANNAPOLIS
salexiswinesjg wrote:Hi Ryan, Thanks for your commentary. All would have been forgotten if when Miles was drinking the Cheval Blanc, if he would have said "Now that's a great Merlot!" I tasted at Cheval Blanc, Ausone, and Petrus while I was there and their wines are between 95% and 97% Merlot with the balance usually Cabernet Franc. Truly great wines.



I'm jealous! I would love to taste those wines. If only Pomerol wasn't so darn expensive.

It's too bad he didn't make the distinction between good and bad Merlot, but that wouldn't have been as interesting to watch I suppose! I agree that there were certainly many Merlot's that deserved the comment however...

rjquillin


quality posts: 167 Private Messages rjquillin
rpm wrote:I wrote a post, but it won't post.

I frequently error the server when I use "<" and ">" without the quotes.

CT

bobrush12866


quality posts: 8 Private Messages bobrush12866
salexiswinesjg wrote:John Gibson here. I thought I would weigh in regarding the "plight" of Merlot. When the movie Sideways came out in 2004, there was the historic line that Miles said that he wasn't going drink and f*ing Merlot. We saw Merlot sales drop by 50% in less than 3 months. Conversely, the sales of Central Coast Pinot Noir skyrocketed. It was amazing that one line in one movie could have that much effect on people's perceptions. I will be the first to admit that Merlot was over planted in every corner of California and most of the wines made deserved the negative comment. Merlot can be a very vigorous vine and without proper trellising and canopy management, it will produce herbal and veggy wines. Those of us who are committed to producing a fine Merlot were the victims of the Sideways backlash.



John: Why was 2004 your last vintage of Merlot....Fruit no longer available from the vineyard, Sideways backlash, or otherwise?

rpm


quality posts: 167 Private Messages rpm
rjquillin wrote:I frequently error the server when I use "<" and ">" without the quotes.



with all the html tags removed....

I knew Sideways was as much a joke on the audience as it was anything else when I heard his Merlot comment after hearing he was saving the Cheval Blanc. However, I have to say I said YES!! when I heard the comment because Merlot has long been one of my least favorite grapes, the exemplar par excellence of why Robert Parker is an Chumly. Made as a varietal, it is usually (save a few great wines in France and in Napa and Sonoma) fruit forward, lacking in acid and structure (responsible for many a flabby middle palate), and simply not very interesting.

I remember even when I was first learning about French wine as a child arguing with my grandfather about not wanting to drink St. Emilion or Pomerol (before I'd had Cheval Blanc, Ausone or Petrus) and always preferring Pauillac in Bordeaux. Of course, my palate was schooled on California reds - mostly Cabernet-predominant and Zinfandel-predominant. In those days, there was almost no Merlot in California - I think the Martini's had 50 acres or so which they used primarily for blending, though I think old Louis liked to make a little as a varietal.

I think Merlot is particularly ill-suited to the modern 'international' style of viticulture where (irrigated) grapes are not harvested until the sugars are above 25 Brix, raising the alcohol levels and accentuating the lack of acid.

Good Merlot in California, however, can be an eye-opener. If you ever get your hands on a magnum (I think the 750s are over the hill by now) of the 1985 Matanzas Creek Merlot, you are in for a treat. I liked it so well I bought three cases, mostly in mags

Wine-tasting in 8 words:
Pull lots of corks!
Remember what you taste!

supercanary


quality posts: 0 Private Messages supercanary

One of the best bottles of wine I've ever had was an Estate Grown Duckhorn merlot. Fantastic stuff.

In for one.

bsevern


quality posts: 109 Private Messages bsevern

We recently had a vintage Merlot tasting party in NorCal, and the results were pretty amazing.

Overall, we found it to be a much more consistent and interesting aging varietal then the vintage Napa cabs we tried a few months earlier.


NorCal Vintage Merlot Night

moondigger


quality posts: 11 Private Messages moondigger
rpm wrote:I knew Sideways was as much a joke on the audience as it was anything else when I heard his Merlot comment after hearing he was saving the Cheval Blanc.


I don't think it was so much a joke on the audience as it was an inside joke for those in the audience with the knowledge to understand it. Miles is a bundle of contradictions, and that's just another example.

I also took Miles' opposition to Merlot to be the wine connoisseur's standard objection: that Merlot is a blending grape, not well-suited to stand alone. Taken that way, even the inside joke about the Cheval Blanc isn't as much of a contradiction as it might seem. I don't know for sure, because I'm not that well versed in French wines... but didn't the '61 Cheval Blanc have a significant percentage of Cab Franc?

Nonetheless, context matters. Miles (wine connoisseur) is talking to Jack (thinks everything tastes "pretty good" and wouldn't know a '61 Cheval Blanc if it fell on his head). This is clearly something they've argued about (or at least discussed) before, given that it's Jack who brings up the subject in the first place:

Jack and Miles prepare to meet the women

Anyway, fun movie.

RyanANNAPOLIS


quality posts: 2 Private Messages RyanANNAPOLIS
moondigger wrote:I don't think it was so much a joke on the audience as it was an inside joke for those in the audience with the knowledge to understand it. Miles is a bundle of contradictions, and that's just another example.

I also took Miles' opposition to Merlot to be the wine connoisseur's standard objection: that Merlot is a blending grape, not well-suited to stand alone. Taken that way, even the inside joke about the Cheval Blanc isn't as much of a contradiction as it might seem. I don't know for sure, because I'm not that well versed in French wines... but didn't the '61 Cheval Blanc have a significant percentage of Cab Franc?

Nonetheless, context matters. Miles (wine connoisseur) is talking to Jack (thinks everything tastes "pretty good" and wouldn't know a '61 Cheval Blanc if it fell on his head). This is clearly something they've argued about (or at least discussed) before, given that it's Jack who brings up the subject in the first place:

Jack and Miles prepare to meet the women

Anyway, fun movie.



Definitely a fun movie. Cheval Blanc is usually more Cab Franc than Merlot, but usually nearly as much Merlot. This is typical of Saint-Émilion wines.

However Merlot is the main component of Pomerol wines (2009 Petrus is 100% Merlot, and 4500 bucks a bottle!). Merlot is much more in play on the Right Bank where the clay soils favor Merlot. The left bank certainly favors Cab, with Merlot as more of a blending agent to soften it up.

kdewaal69


quality posts: 0 Private Messages kdewaal69

Thanks for the post. Glad I bought some!

jmdavidson wrote:I opened a bottle of this on Sunday, since my wine critiquing brother-in-laws would be over. Knowing that merlot pairs well with grilled lamb chops, this seemed like a no-brainer for one of the wines I would open.

Upon PnP'ing, there was not much on the nose. A swirl in the glass and the wide legs inferred high alcohol. Checked the bottle and yes, 15.5%. First taste, no Venturi, and the consensus was pepper, black currant and black cherry. Good mid-palate but the finish was a little strong. Could be the alcohol, but it was dry. I think this wine is similar to a Ty Caton Merlot I've had. Also, should add that a touch of oak was noted.

After about an hour, we continued with the imbibing and found that the fruit was still prevalent but the finish was smoother and still dry. Everyone who tried this wine really liked it...and had no ill feelings towards it being a (oh no) merlot.

After everyone had gone home, I found that there was still about a half a glass left. So, five hours later I finished it off and I found this wine was totally different. No pepper now, but maybe some dark chocolate. The finish was silky.

The consensus between us was that this was a very good merlot that paired well with the chops.

Now that I see Wine Woot's price, I would say this was an excellent value.



kylemittskus


quality posts: 229 Private Messages kylemittskus
moondigger wrote:I don't think it was so much a joke on the audience as it was an inside joke for those in the audience with the knowledge to understand it. Miles is a bundle of contradictions, and that's just another example.



Actually, I heard somewhere (so who knows?) that the writers didnt know that Cheval Blanc was a merlot; they just knew that it was a prized bottle.

"If drinking is bitter, change yourself to wine." -Rainer Maria Rilke

"Champagne is a very kind and friendly thing on a rainy night." -Isak Dinesen

moondigger


quality posts: 11 Private Messages moondigger
kylemittskus wrote:Actually, I heard somewhere (so who knows?) that the writers didnt know that Cheval Blanc was a merlot; they just knew that it was a prized bottle.


Maybe so. I have a vague recollection that Alexander Payne (the writer/director) was a wine aficionado, and didn't require a wine consultant for the script or for shooting. But that's no guarantee that he would have known that detail about Cheval Blanc. I think it works as an ironic character trait for Miles, whether it was intended or not.

salexiswinesjg


quality posts: 3 Private Messages salexiswinesjg

Hi Bob, Sorry for the delay in responding, Ann and I had to catch a plane to Colorado to participate in the Taste of Vail his week. I don't even know if you will get this or not but to answer your question, the answer is yes. I helped the Snowden family by making their wines from 1993 to 2004 when they made their decision to make Diana Snowden the winemaker. They did not want to limit her ability to make the best wine possible by selling us Merlot grapes. The secondary factor was the Sideways backlash. We went from selling our Merlot in a timely fashion to having to really struggle to sell what we already had in our bottled inventory and our future sales from wines in barrel. Without a defined grape source to continue making Merlot, we felt that switching to making Cabernet a easier decision. We have found it much easier to sell Cabernet Sauvignon than Merlot, but with the reputation we have/had with Merlot, we might return to it in the future.

bobrush12866 wrote:John: Why was 2004 your last vintage of Merlot....Fruit no longer available from the vineyard, Sideways backlash, or otherwise?