Sunday, October 9, 2016

Wine Review: Cliff Creek Cellars Merlot 2012

October is International Merlot Month thanks to!

Cliff Creek Cellars Merlot 2012

This right here is the Merlot that I'm most exited about tasting this entire International Merlot Month. Why? Take a look at where it's from. After two California Merlots in a row we head up to the northwestern United States in Southern Oregon.

"OREGON?" you may be saying, "Isn't that Pinot Noir country???" Well, yes. It kind of is. They make Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Chardonnay so goddamn well that those tend to be the only wines you see from them and you would think that's all that they do. By Oregon state law if a wine wants to be labeled as a varietal it has to be 90% of that varietal (most of America is 75%) but if it's Cabernet Sauvignon then it has to be 100%. See? Proof right there that they make quality Cabernet Sauvignon.

I love Merlot and I love Oregon. I took a cross-country trip with my father and my grandfather when I was ten years old, I saw almost every contiguous state, and the one that captured my heart and that I remember the most was Oregon. The beach and the mist in the morning? Pffft. Foggedaboudit. The people and the culture and the food? Just as awesome. I felt right at home and  believed that I might live there some day.

Oregon Coast
I'm still here on Cape Cod, the place where I truly belong, but I will always have a longing to return to Oregon just to see if it's as amazing as I remember it in 1990.

Cliff Creek Cellars is located in Rogue Valley, Southern Oregon. They have 70 acres of vineyard land, the first vines planted in 1999. Their Sams Valley Vineyard is 1,400 feet above sea level with volcanic ash in the soil. Their 2012 Merlot is estate grown and saw 19 months of aging in 34% one-to-three year old French oak, 33% new oak (95% French, 5% American), and 33% neutral oak. The ABV is 13.6%.

Jesus Christ, Cliff Creek, what kind of foil do you use on your bottle necks? This was probably the most difficult foil to cut off, ever! I'm going to assume that's a sign from the cosmos that you have to earn the delicious juice inside.

The color is garnet and it has a transparency that I was shocked to see. Lookin' real cool climate up in here. There's aromas of chocolate mint, dried leaves and twigs, black cherries, prunes and even a piece of coconut. It's lighter bodied, has a laminated mouthfeel, perky acidity and sneaky bitter tannin. There's flavors of cherry cola, table grapes, toasty oak and chocolate mint. It finishes schizophrenic, acidity producing saliva in droves that's turned astringent from tannin, and with flavors of cherry cola and oak.

I like this Merlot because it's delicious. But I really like this Merlot because it's not the style of Merlot that turns me off (trying to be a Cabernet) and it's not the style of Merlot that I crush over (fruit forward, soft and lush). This is a classic Bordeaux style Merlot. It's still juicy but also earthy with a classy delicacy.

So let me be clear about something: you may try this and think that I'm out of my mind. And that's because this, without a doubt, is a food wine. Pair it with lamb chops or pork or beef bolognese and you'll understand. For the retail price of $25 I've got to give it high marks.

Price: $25
Rating: 4.5/5 = Recommended / Highly Recommended (what does that mean?)

The bottle used was supplied free of charge for the purpose of this unpaid review. To have your wine reviewed follow this link.


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