Before I left for Italy to attend Terra Madre and the Wine Media Conference where I spoke about Slow Food and Slow Wine followed by a press trip to Alto Adige, Sue and I met to participate in #MerlotMe with early arriving wines… and while I’ve been in Italy, they continued to arrive! Plus I actually tasted some fabulous merlot here in Italy that I’ll be sharing later in the month.
But for now, here’s two wines we enjoyed, one that is great RIGHT NOW by Decoy, and a second that is perfect for laying down for awhile, or enjoyed with the right rich meal. Since merlot loves lamb, Sue made a meatloaf combining one pound of lamb and one pound of beef. We also know how much the herbal qualities of merlot loves the sweet earthy qualities of squash so Sue brought on of her “Lomita” hybrid winter squash that she sliced thin for “hasselback” squash. She also prepared a salad with thinly sliced fennel — another earthy bulb that we discovered has an affinity for squash.
2019 Decoy Merlot, Sonoma, CA
Classic California merlot!
Color: Ruby with a garnet
Aroma: Carnation, roses, baking spice, bell pepper, sage, black pepper, and cherry, is where Sue wound up, for me it was cherry and bell pepper, more cherry and bell pepper.
Palate: Smooth mouthfeel with plenty of flavor. Tart bright cherry, fresh cherry, balanced acidity, well structured, chalky texture some at the front but mostly at the back of the palate, a touch of bell pepper but more of a sage.
Pairing The fennel and balsamic was perfect with this merlot. The fall flavors in the salad made the wine shine. OMG the smoked meatloaf was over the top with the wine. The sage and the squash was oh so nice. The meat and the squash go together so well. The smoke in the meat is also a highlight. Merlot and meatloaf is a hit. Yes we have done this before, but it is was smoked and brings it to a higher level. The sweetness in the sauce one the meatloaf marries with the wine nicely. Pepperoni and pommegranate is not a usual thing, but it worked so well with the wine.
82% Merlot, 14% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Malbec
2890 cases produced
85% new oak
Color: Deep, dark and dense, maroon velvet curtains, bright ruby red rim
Aroma: Explosion of herbs, heady explosion of herbs, there is a bit of alcohol on the nose being a 15.2%. Brandied cherries, cherries, loamy earth, broken down compost, mint, oak, smokey, heavily oaked, toasted oak, French roast espresso beans,
Palate: Big bold tannins, sucking on a piece of wood, cherry, this wine could lay down for another 10 years to let that oak incorporate into the wine. This is the exact opposite of our smooth Decoy. The oak needs to integrate into the wine a bit more. This wine does not have the silky tannins that many Washington State merlot wines possess.
Pairing: The spicy pepperoni and arugula tames the oak in the wine. We thought that topping the salad with part might also be nice. The smoke in the meatloaf and the smoke of the wine are absolutely perfect together. Adding the lamb added a richness to the meatloaf that was so perfect with the wine. The squash was alright with the wine but fought with it a bit, possibly pair with roast potato and rosemary instead. This wine loves smoked meat. Smoked brisket, smoked tri tip, smoked ribs, and best of all smoke yourself a meatloaf and enjoy.
What a fantastic night of wine and discovery. The fall salad is not impossible for anyone to do. There was complexity and balance of the flavors and this salad does that.
ALSO: We had a wine from Arizona but it didn’t show so well so we decided NOT to include it in this round up. This 2019 merlot was almost 15% alcohol, very pale garnet and translucent with a copper rim offering aromas of super ripe sweet cherry cola with medicinal herbs and baking spices, like cherry cough syrup. On the palate, it seems they threw too much oak at grapes that didn’t have much to say. Medicinal, even chemical.
We know there are good Arizona wines out there this just was not it. We have been looking forward ti sampling and writing about Arizona wines when the political climate there changes and we feel better about it as we have other Arizona wine samples and look forward to sampling and writing about them another time.
Need more inspiration for your October #MerlotMe?
Check these Merlot wine reviews and pairings:
▪Wendy from A Day in the Life on the Farm shares “Merlot: Smooth, Savory and Sustainable”
▪Cindy at Grape Experiences shares “Comfort Food and Wines for Fall: Savory Slow Cooker Chicken and Classic Merlot”
▪Camilla at Culinary Adventures with Camilla shares “Celebrating #MerlotMe with Mushrooms, Truffles, and a Wine from a Cal Alumna”
▪David at Cooking Chat shares “Everyday Pasta Sauce with Ground Beef and Chickpeas”
▪Jane at Always Ravenous shares “Fall Food Pairings with Merlot”
▪Robin at Crushed Grape Chronicles shares “#MerlotMe with figs, cherries and a nice grilled steak”
▪Linda at My Full Wine Glass shares “Kicking off #MerlotMe month with Napa Valley wine and lasagna soup”
▪Jennifer at Vino Travels shares “Warm up with Merlot and Pappardelle Bolognese”
▪Gwendolyn at Wine Predator shares“Smoked Lamb/Beef Meatloaf Says #MerlotMe with Sonoma’s Decoy and Washington’s Pedastal”
▪Susannah at Avvinare shares “Forever A Devoted Merlot Fan“
▪Liz at What’s in that Bottle shares “Three Family-Owned Merlots for Fall“
▪Terri at Our Good Life shares “Provencal Eggplant Stew + Decoy Merlot for #MerlotMe“
▪Jeff at Food Wine Click! shares “Merlot and 40 Cloves of Garlic”