If you read any of my earlier columns this month, October is the month that a group of global social media folks have united to laud the Merlot varietal using the hashtag #merlotme. Merlot is an often misunderstood grape and since the movie Sideways debuted a few years ago, it suffered a lot of brand damage. Some of it was merited as many merlots were in a state of decline, but there were many wine producers that continued to fight the good fight to showcase the beauty of this grape. You’ll continue to hear about Merlot after October as I was sent about 30 samples of this varietal.
One was the well packaged box that I received from La Jota and Mt. Brave with the 2013 La Jota Howell Mountain Merlot and the Mt. Brave Mt. Veeder Merlot from Winemaker Chris Carpenter. Chris’ passion for Merlot and his ability with this grape shows the depth, complexity and elegance that can be created using the same grape in two very distinct vineyards – each with very different soil types and climates. These are special occasion wines – the La Jota averages $85 and the Mt. Brave is $75. But whoa these are delicious wines.
I opened them over the weekend and completely flip flopped over my favorite in a three-day time period. The Howell Mountain had tons of fruit – black and blue berries, mocha, cedar, earthy and powerful with lots of depth. The Mt Veeder wine had notes of blueberry, red fruit, licorice, herbs and minerality. I never actually picked a winner, but realized that the crew tasting these wines over two days completely won.