I'm not sure where Merlot got its bad rap or when it really started. I feel like it was already a maligned grape before Miles uttered the phrase, “I'm not drinking any f*&%ing Merlot!” in Sideways. There is of course some great irony to that statement, considering that Miles' coveted Cheval Blanc is made from none other than Merlot (along with Cabernet Franc). In fact, Merlot is one of the main blending grapes in Bordeaux, that sought after, expensive, fancy-schmancy wine that many feel is the pinnacle of the wine-making world. So why don't people like Merlot?
I think, unfortunately, it's probably the fault of the Californians. Merlot was a popular grape here and was made into some cloyingly sweet jug wines that may have ruined the reputation of this noble grape. Merlot became to red wine what White Zinfandel was to rose; a wine that soured peoples opinions of wine in general. Merlot can even be a wonderful wine, and not just when produced in Bordeaux. Washington State is a great place to find really amazing Merlots that one can be proud to drink.
If anyone in the world could make a good Merlot and even make it seem cool, it would be Charles Smith. His wines are universally awesome and he not only has the finesse to make any varietal great, he also has a talent for packaging them well. His 2007 "Velvet Devil" Merlot has a striking black and white label with big block letters and a devilish pitchfork. The grapes are sourced from several vineyards throughout Columbia Valley. The wine lives up to its name with a silky smooth mouth-feel and beautiful red velvety fruit. It is a medium-bodied wine with notes of dark plum, spice and wood. The perfect wine to please everyone at your holiday table. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!