The Tasting Panel magazine

JULY 2011

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VARIETALS The Return of A MUCH-MALIGNED VARIETAL COMES BACK, WITH A VENGEANCE Merlot by Anthony Dias Blue sales chart sideways. True, the Merlot of yore was often too soft, too flabby and just too easy. When it’s done right, however, Merlot is a grape of astonish- ing substance, verve and polish—as has been proven on Bordeaux’s Right Bank for centuries. A A new wave of domestic Merlots has recently washed across my tast- ing table, and they show that this Bordeaux-bred varietal is not only alive and well, but better than ever. From Santa Barbara to Walla Walla, American vintners are crafting serious, subtle, classic versions packed with individuality and character. Ladies and gentlemen, Merlot is back. 42 / the tasting panel / july 201 1 Arrowood 2007 Merlot, Unfined & Unfiltered, Sonoma Valley ($42) Velvety, ripe and rich with dense plum and black raspberry fruit; supple, rich and showing notes of mocha, spice and oak; long, balanced and stylish. 91 JACKSON FAMILY WINES Balboa 2009 Merlot, Columbia Valley ($18) Lush, ripe and bright with cherry and raspberry; supple and long. 92 few years ago, Merlot became a dirty word among wine geeks, thanks to a certain movie that knocked this varietal’s once-soaring Ancient Peaks 2008 Merlot, Paso Robles ($16) Smooth and ripe with dense, rich plum and black cherry fruit; nicely textured with balance and a long, pure finish. 90 Chateau Julien 2009 Merlot, Barrel Selected, Monterey County ($12) Tangy and bright with lively plum, spice and silky texture; earthy and dense with nice structure and length. A super value. 88 Chateau Ste. Michelle 2008 Merlot, Canoe Ridge, Columbia Valley ($22) Smooth and lush with ripe plum and tangy raspberry; juicy and dense, balanced and showing good length. 90 STE. MICHELLE WINE ESTATES

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