Merlot is easily one of the most maligned varietals of the last decade. The film Sideways did little to help its cause. But in my opinion what hurt Merlot’s reputation more was the sea of insipid examples out there. For every excellent Merlot there’s one that’s sweet, flabby and worst of all innocuous. There’s nothing more discouraging than drinking a wine and being unable to distinguish what varietal it is. Thankfully though, along with the solid examples that have always been out there, the tide seems to have shifted a bit. More and more of the Merlot’s I’ve tasted, in a wide array of price categories, from all over the world, actually taste like what they are. Today I’ll look at an example from Cinnabar Winery. The Cinnabar Winery 2007 Merlot I made from fruit sourced in two sections of Paso Robles. 95% of the wine is Merlot with 5% Petit Verdot blended in as well. Barrel aging was accomplished over 16 months in a combination of American and Hungarian oak; 15% were new. The suggested retail price for this wine is $21.
Dark fruit aromas with an undercurrent of jam fill the inviting nose of this Paso Robles Merlot. Blackberry pie, cherry and plum pudding spice notes are the most prominent parts of the full flavored palate. Chocolate notes as well as hints of graham cracker emerge on the finish which has yielding tannins, good length and a velvety mouth feel. Solid acidity keeps everything in check.
I like this Merlot a lot for a couple of reasons. Most importantly it’s true to the varietal. Secondly it’s a fine example of Paso Robles wine. The combination of fruit from two distinct areas in Paso helps keeps things balanced and provides for a style that shows both the big fruit that Paso is known for as well as the proportion that can be achieved. A nice value.