By Jamie Drummond
2006 Peter Franus Merlot Napa Valley, California (LCBO VINTAGES #235952) $34.95
Quite regularly some wines come through Ontario’s stores that truly fly under the radar… and this is certainly one of them. In this case it could be something to do with the fact that so many wine lovers are put off my the mere mention of the grape Merlot. Blame this on that bloody awful film Sideways, a vinous tsunami of utterly terrible over-produced South American Merlots, or the fact that many simply do not understand the more thoughtfully put-together examples of this varietal. Personally I take full advantage of most folks’ ignorance when it comes to this grape, and snap up all the great bottlings that so many overlook.
Winemaker Peter Franus is an old friend of Good Food Revolution, and makes a mighty fine bottle of Napa Valley Merlot. There is still a bit of this hanging around in Vintages stores around the province, and I couldn’t recommend it more highly.
While many immediately think of the mighty Cabernet Sauvignon when it comes to the hallowed Napa Valley, in recent years I have found myself more often than not drawn towards many of the well-crafted Merlots produced there.
This is obviously, and unashamedly, a Napa wine, with an extremely ripe black fruit profile both on nose and palate. One can sniff a fair chunk of oak in there, but the densely packed fruit is more than enough to support all that top-notch cooperage. That broad, lush, fleshiness that I adore in this variety is present, but it’s a serious mouthful of wine, with considerable structure, pointing me towards enjoyment with most of the red meat that one chooses to throw on the grill at this time of year. In a perfect world I would decant it for a bit before consumption, and perhaps chill it down just a little.
Speaking of perfect… I’d rank this as the perfect dinner party wine… as in, it is the perfect wine to bring around to a friend’s dinner party… just be sure to ensure that they open it while you are there!