Chilcas - 2008 Reserva Merlot / Ecos de Rulo - 2007 Bisquertt Merlot Gran Reserve

I love Merlot. There I've done it, I’m taking sides with a variety that a lot of people seem to have a strong aversion to. Here’s the dirty secret about that though, there’s quite a bit of really good Merlot made in many wine regions throughout the world. That said there’s also a lot of Merlot I would have no desire to drink. Due to some industrial tasting Merlot, and a little movie that bashed Merlot as much as it praised Pinot Noir a lot of wine drinkers have taken to drinking anything but Merlot. For my money they’re missing out. Today I’ll look at two terrific, well priced examples from Chile. First up is the Chilcas 2008 Reserva Merlot 2008. The fruit for this wine was sourced near the winery which sits adjacent to the Descabezado Volcano. There they have just fewer than 1,000 acres. This includes vineyard land, physical winery, bottling plant, and their offices. This wine is 100% Merlot and has a suggested retail price of $13.

The nose of this Merlot shows of a bit of an herbaceous quality, following that is an onslaught of dark fruit flavors. The dark fruit theme continues through the palate where cherry and blackberry along with a host of other flavors rule the day. Pencil lead, minerals, black pepper and earth are all part of an above average and layered finish. This wine has chewy tannins and good overall structure. For $13 this wine shows excellent varietal character and is a very good value.

The second wine is the Ecos de Rulo 2007 Bisquertt Merlot Gran Reserve. This wine was made using fruit sourced in the Colchagua Valley. In addition to Merlot (90%), this wine has 10% Petit Verdot blended in. Barrel aging occurred over 12 months in French oak; three months of bottle aging followed. This offering has a suggested retail price of $16.

Blueberry aromas explode from the nose of this 2007 Merlot. They’re joined by hints of vanilla, thyme and a touch of toast. Blackberry, black raspberry, huckleberry, and continued blueberry are all part of a veritable avalanche of dark fruit flavors which dominate the palate of this Merlot.  Espresso, hints of earth and a dollop of brown sugar all emerge in the finish which has excellent length. This wine shows of medium tannins and nice structure. At $16 it also shows off true Varietal character and is a terrific value.

If you haven’t been drinking Merlot, it’s time to start again. If you have been drinking it along here are a couple of offerings that over-deliver in their category. In any case you can’t miss with these two wines from Chile. This is a country which continues to be one to look to time and again for distinct wines that deliver more quality than their price points indicate in many instances.