The World Of Merlots tasting was our third gathering of wines from many appellations, but comparing bottles made from the same grape. Overall, we were very happy with the quality of these wines, even with the bottom two wines only receiving one point apiece. While we had trouble determining which growing regions the wines came from (save for the Australian bottle), we enjoyed the diversity of flavors, textures, and aromas.
In a very rare occurrence, all six tasters agreed on their top wine, with the grand prize going to a good value Merlot from Paso Robles. Tasters were impressed with the overall balance and depth of flavors in this one, with no obvious faults.
First Place: Paso Creek Merlot 2006 (Paso Robles). Tasters found cedar and dark fruit aromas to go with the woodsy, old church pew scents. This had a candied quality on the nose, and was more overtly fruity, showing sweet tarts, darker fruit, and grapes. Most complicated on the palate, featuring smoky notes on a velvety frame. Andy noted, "I can get down with this", and "I could bring this home to momma." Good texture, with tobacco, violets, and starfruit on the finish. Well-balanced. Andy called it "the complete package", and Ali said, "I'm smitten with it". Ali and Andy then argued about who was going to date this wine. The unanimous winner, with 36 points. Kristin's bottle. About $20.
Second Place: 14 Hands Merlot 2007 (Washington State). Looked thinner in glass, with initial scents of skunk, glass shard, overturned earth, mushroom, and faint blackberry. This was shy at first, with Ali yelling into her glass, "Hello, are you in there?!" and Andy said it was a "wine mime". David responded with a mime impersonation, holding up his hands and saying, "I'm stuck in this glass". Later, the nose became buttery, with a candied note. Soft, low key, and subtle in the mouth, with fig, root beer, and cream soda flavors. This emerged later in the tasting to be much less shy, becoming expansive on the palate, and showing more complex fruit, coffee, and cologne notes. Four tasters gave this their second-highest rating, and both David and Hartwell nearly voted for this as their first place wine. Received 19 points. Josephine bottle. A bargain at about $13.
Third Place: Mollydooker Merlot The Scooter 2009 (South Australia). Exhibiting blueberries, butter, buttered popcorn (Hart, "Real butter, not fake movie theater butter"), cherries, and whipped cream aromas. Andy felt it was like "when you get water caught up your nose when you're swimming". Very ripe, full bodied, and rich. Creamy and jammy. Ali felt it was "teetering on too ripe for me", and Jo said, "I like it, but feel like I would hate myself in the morning for liking it". Inky. Overt, but well-balanced. Plush in texture, with lingering spiciness. Received 15 points. Ali's bottle. About $27.
Falesco Montiano 2000 (Lazio). Deep color. Complex aromas of olive, ashtray, glue, rubber band, plum, super dark fruit, dust, spice, and dried flowers. Jo found "sumi ink". After some time in the glass, the wine offered burnt acorn squash, coffee, bacon, and smoke scents. Fairly tannic on the palate. Hart felt that "the smell totally didn't match the taste", and Ali noted "Interesting attack, then nothing. Damn!". Raisin, asparagus, and green bell pepper flavors. Received 12 points. David's bottle. About $50.
Chateau Pavillon Bel-Air 2005 (Lalande de Pomerol). Andy felt that it had "flabby legs". Shy aromatically, showing some old books and butter notes. Andy detected "distant chimney" and Ali noted "close-up kitchen drain". Tasted fecal, astringent, dry, and awkward. Hints of cherry, with a lemon rind aftertaste, along with underripe apple, broccoli rabe, or bitter vegetable. Ali described a "cowlick at the end". Received 1 point. Hartwell's bottle. About $45.
Casa Lapostolle Casa Merlot 2007 (Rapel Valley). The nose of this wine prompted taster reactions of "whoa" and "oh my god". Soapy aromas to go with the body odor, farm, hay, burning plastic, rubber band, powdery rubber glove, pistachio, and date notes. Ali felt is was "not good hay, bad hay, old wet hay". Black licorice hints showed up later. Woodsy, piney, velvety on the tongue, but tastes manufactured. Soft texture. David detected "petroleum distillate", and Andy said, "I don't like it at all", being reminded of "licking ash". Tart on the finish. Received 1 point. Andy's bottle. About $10.