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Sunday, October 30, 2016

Wine Review: Benziger Sonoma County Merlot 2013

October is International Merlot Month thanks to!

Benziger Sonoma County Merlot 2013

This is the final review of International Merlot Month and I'm gonna start it off with a spoiler: this is a review for one of my most favorite wines ever. The combination of being both affordable and phenomenal make Benziger Merlot possibly my top suggested wine as wine manager of the Dennisport Lukes of Cape Cod. So now that you know how this ends, let's get to the other stuff.

Benziger is certified sustainable and uses biodynamic farming in their vineyards. Basically, biodynamic creates its own fully functioning ecosystem within the vineyard. They bring in specific flowers that attract the good bugs that fight off the bad bugs, thus eliminating the use of pesticides. They make their own fertilizer, use grazing animals to trim the soil cover crops, and etc. There's some really weird stuff that comes with biodynamic farming too, such as burying manure inside a cow horn, and having root days, fruit days, leaf days, and flower days dictate how, when, or if you're going to do certain things.

I'll never forget what Chris Benziger told me when I met him: "It sounds crazy. I still think it's crazy. But all I care about is that it works and it does." He would know. The winery took an enormous gamble in the 1990's when they shut down operations for the better part of a decade to convert their vineyards over to biodynamic, and since then their wines have been far better than they've ever been.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

That face you make...

That face you make when somebody will only buy a specific vintage of Smoking Loon.

... when somebody will only buy a specific vintage of Smoking Loon.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Wine Review: Santa Rita 120 Merlot 2015

October is International Merlot Month thanks to!

Santa Rita 120 Merlot 2015

Hey there, everybody! This review will be quick and easy (something I'm sure you like reading but I don't enjoy writing). Due to unexpected events I had to rush this post faster than the CW Barry Allen can fuck up a timeline so I'm just going to get right into it!

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Wine Review: Duckhorn Napa Valley Merlot 2013

October is International Merlot Month thanks to!

Duckhorn Napa Valley Merlot 2013

BOOM. The big daddy of the month is here for International Merlot Month. It was the first to be delivered too and I squealed like a six year old girl opening a package of Shopkins when it arrived. Now the day has come to finally consume the heavenly nectar within.

Should I even do a thing about the winery? I mean, it's flipperin' Duckhorn. But I suppose I should, right? Ugh. Alright. I'll delay the drinking. Duckhorn was founded in 1976 by Dan and Margaret Duckhorn and now they're well respected and legendary and I just want to drink this wine goddamnit, okay?

The 2013 Napa Valley Merlot is composed of 88% Merlot, 7% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Cabernet Franc. 100% of it was aged for 15 months in French oak, 25% and 75% neutral. The ABV is 14.5% and blah blah blah.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

"In every sip taken in the present, we drink in the past"

Karen MacNeil, The Wine Bible

"For eight thousand years, vines clutching the earth have thrust themselves upward towards the sun and given us juicy berries, and ultimately wine. In every sip taken in the present, we drink in the past - the moment in time when those berries were picked; a moment gone but  recaptured - and so vivid that our bond with nature is welded deep." - Karen MacNeil, The Wine Bible

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Wine Review: Peju Napa Valley Merlot 2013

October is International Merlot Month thanks to!

Peju Napa Valley Merlot 2013

Peju. Just over-hearing the name being spoken perks your ears up and causes some eavesdropping to hear more. Family owned and operated since 1983, Peju is an outstanding Napa Valley winery with a cult following and a fantastic name.

Both organic and sustainable farming are used to make this wine. Just a little sidetrack: With the recent development that we've passed an irreversible carbon milestone in our atmosphere, please begin to give sustainable farming more weight than organic. Organic's health benefits have been proven nonexistent. It also doesn't take emissions into account while sustainable does. Sustainable feeds more people. And instead of using diesel tractors to uproot weeds, it can use Roundup which is entirely safe because of the nature of its active ingredient. I'm going to get more into this in the beginning of the new year. It's a complicated subject so please, until then, look into it yourself.

Peju's 2013 Merlot is from their Rutherford Estate Vineyard (organic) and their Persephone Vineyard (sustainable). It's composed of 99% Merlot and 1% Malbec. It saw 18 months in oak, 60% of it French and 40% of it American, and has a final ABV of 14.5%.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Wine Review: Bridge Lane White Merlot 2015

October is International Merlot Month thanks to!

"And now for something completely different." - Monty Python

The Bridge Lane label is produced by my friends from Long Island, New York: Lieb Cellars. If you'd like to learn more about them please read my article A Brief History of Lieb Cellars. They're great people with a great story and they make awesome wine.

Last year I had the pleasure of drinking this wine and was surprised at, not only how different it was than expected, but by how much I loved it. So, when October on the blog became dedicated to Merlot in honor of International Merlot Month (thanks to, I immediately thought of installing it as an addition to the line-up. A whole month dedicated to one varietal? That's a lot of Merlot. I had to place something a little different into the mix, and this was the obvious solution.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Wine Review: Northstar Columbia Valley Merlot 2012

October is International Merlot Month thanks to!

NorthStar Columbia Valley Merlot 2012

I don't care what anybody says about Bordeaux or Napa or Chile; Washington State does the best Merlot in the world. You can quote me on that. And so for International Merlot Month we stay in the northwestern United States but head up to Washington's Columbia Valley with Northstar.

Northstar falls under the Ste. Michelle umbrella, and it was created for the sole purpose of making world class Merlot. They do make other varietals such as Cabernet and even Malbec, but their attention is focused on their flagship Columbia Valley and Walla Walla Merlots, as well as Merlot based blends.

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.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Wine Review: Cannonball Sonoma County Merlot 2014

October is International Merlot Month thanks to!

Cannonball Sonoma County Merlot 2014

Cannonball is one of those brands that I see all over the place but I'm not too familiar with because I've just never stopped to give it any attention. Now's a good a time as any to get acquainted, right?

Cannonball was started in 2006 with the intention of becoming king of the under $20 Cabernet. With the success of that Cab they've expanded their portfolio. Their winemaker is Dennis Hill, formerly of Blackstone.

The 2014 Merlot is 91% Merlot with Petite Sirah and Syrah as the remaining 9%. The fruit mainly comes from their Adam and Eve vineyard located in the Northern Russian River Valley, and then some other spots in Sonoma Valley. It was cold soaked before fermentation, saw no oak, and has an ABV of 13.8%.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Wine Review: Liberty School Central Coast Merlot 2014

Wine Review: Liberty School Central Coast Merlot 2014

This month, as it stands right now, I'll be reviewing a total of TWELVE Merlots for International Merlot Month. That's three reviews of Merlot a week! And because I'm writing a very long, heavy, research intensive and special three-part series for December leading into Christmas, I'm gonna try to get right to the point this month.

Last year when Liberty School's Merlot was brought around for a taste by the sales rep I was quite surprised. It was of perfect quality for a Merlot at its price point and ridiculously textbook in varietal correctness, so that's why I'm making it the first Merlot review this month after my monthly wine pick. It's a prime example of what quality California Merlot is all about.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Summer: When it's finally over.

When you don't have to stock the rosé section every five seconds... IT'S FINALLY OVER. #RetailProblems

Saturday, October 1, 2016

October Wine Pick: Truro Vineyards Merlot 2014

This WINE PICK of the month was written for the Luke's of Cape Cod website.

Truro Vineyards Merlot 2014

October is International Merlot Month and #MerlotMe blows up on social media. As a lover and devout supporter of "the little blackbird" how could I not select one for my wine pick? I'm even going local by making it a Merlot from Cape Cod!

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