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What's wrong with Merlot?


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It's a victim of its own success, like REM after "Losing my Religion," or Chef Lagasse after "Emeril Live."

But there's nothing inherently unhip about Merlot. If you like it, drink it. The hippest people I know are the ones who don't give a flying f*** whether something's hip or not.

Besides, you're an eGull, now. By definition, everything you do is hip.

Welcome.

Dave Scantland
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Eat more chicken skin.

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Merlot, as a grape or as a varietal, is a blank slate.

Many American Merlots, however, are best described as insipid, one-dimensional, boring and characterless wines that demonstrate none of the arts of a winemaker.

fanatic...

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Many American Merlots, however, are best described as insipid, one-dimensional, boring and characterless wines that demonstrate none of the arts of a winemaker. (emphasis added)

Oh come on Malachi - don't mince your words. Tell us what you really think! :raz:

Katie M. Loeb
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Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

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My feelings on merlot are neatly summed up by Willie Gluckstern in his book The Wine Avenger, so I might as well make a small quote:

- As a red grape, Merlot is the "un-red wine," the twin to Chardonnay in its use as a neutral, low-acid base for oak flavoring.

- Like Chardonnay, Merlot has a one-dimensional flavor profile (some nonspecific melange of plumlike fruits liberally dosed with chocolaty oak).

- Like Chardonnay, they all taste virtually the same -- like wood.

--

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some might argue that merlot plays an important part in bourdeaux, which some consider the greatest wines ever created. "merlot", however, generally conjures images of the horrible product mass produced in CA, as some have stated. if you like them, you like them. but people will point at you and giggle when you order a "glass of merlot, please."

Edited by tommy (log)
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I'm sorry, but this is just plain silly:

Merlot has a one-dimensional flavor profile (some nonspecific melange of plumlike fruits liberally dosed with chocolaty oak).

How can a "melange" of anything plus chocolate flavored oak be one-dimensional? You may not like the combination, but it sounds like it's got some depth to me. And that wouldn't even be my description.

Edited by Dave the Cook (log)

Dave Scantland
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dscantland@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics signatory

Eat more chicken skin.

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I'm sorry, but this is just plain silly:
Merlot has a one-dimensional flavor profile (some nonspecific melange of plumlike fruits liberally dosed with chocolaty oak).

How can a "melange" of anything plus chocolate flavored oak be one-dimensional? You may not like the combination, but it sounds like it's got some depth to me. And that wouldn't even be my description.

i'm thinking Willie was discussing the one-dimensional products that are often made from merlot. the quote was out of context obviously. his choice of the word "melange" may be questionable, but i think his point still stands.

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Merlot is simply the Red equivalent to Chardonnay. Its over oaked to death. Same deal with most Cabernet Sauvignon.

the same with just about every wine that was coming out of california, and most new world wine producing countries at that time, and even now. it's not poor old merlot's fault. have you had cab francs from california? they resemble zinfandel more than they do anything from Loire. it's just another casualty of the wine making process.

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I can't say I've had a California cabernet franc. I take it that it doesn't have that signature "chevre" grassy terroir that it is supposed to?

California pinot noirs don't suck, but compared with Oregon ones which are outstanding, they are very pricey.

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

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i'm thinking Willie was discussing the one-dimensional products that are often made from merlot.  the quote was out of context obviously.  his choice of the word "melange" may be questionable, but i think his point still stands.

I didn't really disagree with his description of Merlot, nor with his characterization of it as a grape that tends to produce a wine with relatively neutral character. It was a just sloppy writing -- trying to substitute fervor for facts.

I also don't think there's anything inherently wrong with a neutral wine. What you like is what you like.

Please carry on.

Edit: my own sloppy writing.

Edited by Dave the Cook (log)

Dave Scantland
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dscantland@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics signatory

Eat more chicken skin.

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I love merlot. This proves that I'm not a snooty sommelier. :laugh: No one has mentioned St. Emilion and Pomerol so far. French merlot is quite astonishing; nothing like California merlot. California DOES produce many very delicious merlots. Bulk merlot is insipid. Treat yourself. From France look for: Chateau Angelus 1995, Fugue de Nenin 1998, Tertre Roteboeuf 1996 or 1998 if you want to experience heady, powerfully scented merlot. From California my favorites are: Lewis Cellars , Arrowood, Emmolo, Pahlmeyer, Murphy-Goode Reserve. Jed Steele once told me that merlot was the crossover grape from white zinfandel. I think there is one rule with wine: drink what you like and don't apologize.

Mark

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OK, I'll admit it: I didn't know that St. Emilion was merlot.

But a St. Emilion was the first non-pop wine I ever had. I picked it at random out of the storeroom of the restaurant where I worked, took it home, and drank it with a roast chicken dinner. It was wonderful.

Thanks, Mark.

Dave Scantland
Executive director
dscantland@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics signatory

Eat more chicken skin.

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i like the analogy to chardonnay but for completely different reasons. it's just somethign people say because they need to feel hip. and the way to feel hip is to have a reflex prejudice, whether it's a band or a grape. tasting for yourself is so scary! what if i'm wrong! saying you hate chardonnay is every bit as stupid as saying you hate pinot noir. some of the world's greatest wines are chardonnays. just because some of them are bad, it became hip to diss them (and who remembers those california pinots from the 70s? like port). same with merlot. i'm with mark s. on this (as always ... ever since he poured that chateau rayas ....). people who say they hate merlot are often the same ones who pay $250 a bottle for petrus. one of the most impressive california wines i've had recently was the sinskey vineyards merlot from carneros. amazing how elegant that wine is from a coolish-weather climate (carneros, in my opinion, not really being cool enough for pn).

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some of the world's greatest wines are chardonnays.

i still think we need to differeniate btwn "chardonnay" the grape, and "chardonnay" the wine. same with merlot. unless some of the worlds greatest wines made from chardonnay are coming from someplace other than burgundy (and i'm not suggesting they're not).

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I think there is one rule with wine:  drink what you like and don't apologize.

Only one rule Mark? :unsure:

I agree. Merlot is good. Chardonnay is good. It's all good if you look hard enough.

Firefly Restaurant

Washington, DC

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