Some wines are so ubiquitous that it strikes me as interesting to check in with them from time to time. My purpose in doing this is two-fold. On the one hand I'm just curious to see how a wine is tasting from vintage to vintage. And on the other I'm always interested to taste something that has mass popularity; looking at that as a bit of a barometer of the general tastes of the average consumer. While not particularly scientific, it does fascinate me. Blackstome Merlot is such a case. For quite a number of years now this wine has been incredibly popular on store shelves, and in restaurants. I know that for many years this wine was the most popular Merlot in restaurants, it may still be the case but I'm not sure. The 2006 Blackstone Winery Merlot carries a California designation. Fruit was sourced in a number of counties, Monterey at 58% was the most represented. The fruit is a blend of Merlot (85%), Syrah (9%), Cabernet Franc (2%), Cabernet Sauvignon (2%), Malbec (1%), and Petite Verdot (1%). French and American oak barrels were used to age 30% of the wine. While the suggested retail price is $12, this wine is widely available for between $8 and $10.
Ripe berry with a little lilt of jam fills the nose of this Merlot along with subtle violet and vanilla notes. Throughout the palate dark fruit notes such as blackberry, black cherry and plum are prominent. The medium length finish brings out white pepper spice and a touch of sour cherry. Overall this wine is approachable with a soft mouth-feel and gentle tannins. A grilled burger is the classic match for this wine.
The bottom line for me with the Blackstone Merlot is that it's widely available and very reasonably priced. I find it to be a step up from the Yellowtails of the world in terms of varietal correctness and overall drinking pleasure. The fruit is perhaps a bit brighter than what I find in my favorite Merlots. But those aren't available for $8 and aren't necessarily made to satisfy a large gathering. For me that's the appeal of the Blackstone Merlot. if you have a BBQ or party a lot of people who will drink a glass of wine but don't necessarily spend countless hours obsessing over it are going to enjoy it. And the ones that do obsess over it, they'll be glad it does in fact taste like Merlot.