Since wine is made from grapes, have you ever wondered why it doesn’t taste more like grape juice? Yeasts in the fermentation processes and oak aging have much to do with the answer. Some wines, like Beaujolais Nouveau, are expected to taste grapey. For a good Merlot, not so much.
Living in the Northeast, it’s easy to visit wineries in the Finger Lakes and Long Island regions of New York State or one of the thirty-some-odd wineries scattered throughout New Jersey. But, as huge fans of dry Cab, Zin, and Syrah, we don’t find as much to love locally as we do in California. On one of our jaunts, we picked up a bottle of Merlot from the Renault Winery in NJ that we put in rotation for tonight.
We decant this 2011 Merlot and notice quite a bit of sediment. Although this bottle has been hanging around our cellar for a couple of years, it still has some sparkle in its ruby color. The nose has pleasant floral notes along with an earthy, leathery essence. On the palate is grape candy, ripe blueberry fruit, vanilla, and oak. The mouthfeel is medium-bodied with balanced acidity and soft tannins. The medium length finish is smooth and even with no tart or sour issues.
Certainly the fun is in the adventure of trying something new. While Renault got a lot of things right with this Merlot, the pucker-y sweet and sour grape candy aspect that appeared mid-palate was more a minus than a plus. Better luck next time.