Merlot

This is part of a series of posts about the wines offered at Slows BBQ during the summer of 2015.

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2011 Merlot 60%, Domaine Chiroulet

A striking resemblance to Bordeaux from St. Emilion, with ripe notes of black currants and ash. You may also detect an aroma of very dark chocolate. Enjoy with a plate full of thinly sliced brisket
-the menu

This is one of two wines Slows is offering from Domaine Chiroulet.

For the past generation of wine drinkers Merlot has been trapped in a kind of feedback loop. Popularity led to hurried over-production, which led to bland wines, which paradoxically led to more popularity. It’s a case study in the polarities of appreciation: enduring affection comes from patience and authenticity, while fashion is an eager consumer of cosmetic enhancement and simulation.

The flood of bad Merlot on the market in, say 2004, was vegetal, thin and scrupulously sweetened in an effort to cover its flaws. And it worked. To some degree it still works. But assuming we can avoid that, the question is: what does real Merlot want to be?*

Merlot in its native region of Bordeaux has a very small geographical focus where it excels. In the communes of St. Emilion and Pomerol the soil, weather and presumably the microflora conspire to create Merlot wines that are dense and chocolatey but with an elegant perfume of violets. As you move away from these dots of land, even within Bordeaux, Merlot begins to take a back seat as a utility blending component for Cabernet Sauvignon. Even farther away, it just doesn’t work at all. Merlot is fussy to grow.

The Cote de Gascogne is not far from St. Emilion, but its vineyards that resemble it are apparently few in number. This is one. The wine it produces is dramatic in terms of its severity of flavor. As the music begins to play it reveals embraceable sweetness and lightness.

This wine is exemplary of a red wine that has the internal balance, ripeness and structure to taste good at very warm atmospheric temperatures.

More on this estate here.

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*(See the similar Chardonnay question here.)

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