I attended Society for American Wines Merlot event with great anticipation. There are a couple things I am appreciating at the SAW events. First is these are guided tastings. A well informed person (Chris Bee this time) guides us through the tasting. Second they pull well aged wines from their cellar. It takes a lot of patience and discipline to have wines in a cellar. And the fruits of your labor are well refined wines that have improved with time (if your lucky)!
I have not had a chance to taste well aged Merlot’s before so I had no idea what to expect. Up front I had an opinion that Merlot’s do not age well.
So with all this up front onto the event! It was being held at the U of T Faculty club which do a good job and is a good venue for the event.
The event started out with two reception wines.
The first, a Fieldstone 2005 Merlot. This wine was 80% Merlot 20% Cab Sauv. The wine had a slight peppery taste to it with some Oak. $23.95 Quite a reasonable wine. All in all quite a nice Merlot.
The second reception wine was 100% Merlot this time also from Fieldstone. Coro Graziano 2005 from Mendicino $26.95. This wine was much drier than the first but had a touch of a bitterness to it. I believe it might have needed bit more breathing or it might have been a bit too young.
Neither of these wines are available at the LCBO.
Beringer 1995 Hill Mountain Merlot $76. My wine glass (or the wine itself) had a slight rubber smell off it. The effect did not continue into the wine which was a good thing. The wine was very nice. Classic Merlot flavors, slightly dry, with no perpperyness. Chris got some tannins off it and thought it might be very close to it’s prime. This wine was my favorite (in spite of the rubbery smell) and ranked as number 2 for the group. I would give it a 90-91.
Clos Pegase 1999 Merlot $46. On the nose I got quite a wiff of alcohol. I got a reasonable amount of oak on palette with some tannins. The wine had a nice bit of dryness to it and a nice finish. This was my number 3 (I would give it a 89-90) and was tied for 5th from the group.
Havens 1999 $34. This wine was all wrong for me. They blended in a cab franc with this one. I don’t get that. Cab Franc is such a big wine it dominated the taste. I could get some Merlot but it was elusive. In spite of that I found this wine a lighter Merlot with a light finish. I’d be hard pressed to give this an 88. This wine ranked number 4 for me and 4th for the group.
Bargetto 1997 $49. This wine is 100% Merlot. On the nose I got a lot of wood. On the tastes the oak was dominant (over done for my tastes). There was a strong alcohol flavor and it had a medium finish. I would give it an 87-88 and ranked number 5 for me and dead last for the group.
Merryvale 1996 $50. This wine had some cab sauv blended in. On the nose I got a very mild bouquet. I got a strong bitter alcohol flavor on the finish of this wine. I didn’t appreciate this one at all. I would say an 86-87 and my least favorite wine of the evening. It was number 3 for the group.
Quail Ridge 1997 $52. On the nose I got smoke and tobacco. There was a slight bit of bitterness on the finish of this wine. Chris got chocolate off the wine. I would give it an 87 and it was number 7 for me and tied for 5th for the group.
Shafer 1996 $56. This wine has some cab sauv blended in. Once again I had some rubbery smells off mine. I even confirmed this with a few folks around the table. It must have come off the glass. I found this wine had a slight bit of pepperyness to it, consistent with the cab suav blended in. This wine was the groups favorite!
Wineglass cellars 1999 $62. 100% Merlot. This wine was smack on varietal Merlot for me. All the usual plum tastes were there. I got a slight bit of bitterness to it and it through quite a bit of sediment. This wine was my second favorite but again tied for 5th in the group.
So all in all the event was excellent. I always seem to fall on the side of preferring a 100% Merlot. I appreciate the subtle gentle flavors of a well done Merlot. It’s a great opportunity to taste a lot of fine wines in a short period of time for a reasonable price. There were nibblies at the table that included pate, chesse and a few others. I am really enjoying the formal sit down, guiding tastings that SAW do!