Merlot is back and here to stay.
Los Carneros, Napa Valley
A luxuriously “simple” wine. Grown well in RSV’s organically farmed Carneros vineyards and unencumbered by heavy handed winemaking technique for a pure expression of cool climate Merlot with rich, yet bright, aromas and flavors of red berries, hard candy, cassis, and earthy spice. The wine is youthfully tight with firm tannin balanced by mouth watering acidity for an incredibly optimistic future.
Decant and enjoy with food!
Merlot is back and here to stay.
Merlot is back and here to stay.
A luxuriously “simple” wine.
Grown well in RSV’s organically farmed Carneros vineyards and unencumbered by heavy handed winemaking technique for a pure expression of cool climate Merlot with rich, yet bright, aromas and flavors of red berries, hard candy, cassis, and earthy spice.
The classic style of RSV Merlot makes it a delicious partner for this modern twist on a classic Hungarian dish.
A Natural State...
or second nature!
We live in contradictory culinary times. Even though we find ourselves in the midst of a gustatory renaissance, what dominates the market is processed, packaged and predictable. Cuisine-oriented media teaches the ways of the professional chef or vintner, yet the advertisements pitch frozen dinners, artificially sweetened diet drinks, large-production “manufactured” wines, processed snacks, and fast food. We say we want authentic but “they” teach us to expect it fast, easy, and inexpensive.
We can’t have our food and beverage all ways. The math just doesn’t add up. It’s impossible for our sustenance to be simultaneously authentic, convenient, and cheap. After all, real food and drink is about farming, not manufacturing… and farming is difficult by its very nature. It requires hands-on human interaction to do well. Good farming is artisanal but the artisan is rarely rewarded in a food economy based on the industrial model… a model elected to power on a referendum reinforced by the ballot box that is the consumer wallet.
“The further we remove from a natural mode of living the more we lose our natural tastes; or rather habit makes a second nature, which we substitute to such a degree for the first that none among us any longer knows what the latter is.”
I’ve used the first part of this quote in prior musings, but now I find the second part more interesting. It was written in the late 1700’s by Jean Jacques Rousseau who, in turn, borrowed parts of Plutarch’s Essay. We all know we’ve moved away from the “natural” state, but interestingly “habit” becomes our second nature so that we no longer know what natural is… and that pretty much sums it up. We no longer know what is real and the only way we can come close to it again is to change our habits, trying to see through the spin in an attempt to reacquire a taste for authenticity.
I find the fancier food and wine are, the less I like them. I know this is a broad stroke statement but I have learned that, for the most part, “fancy” means heavily manipulated or too much of a good thing - yet again, moving away from what is real or “natural.” I prefer my food and wine to be luxuriously simple.
Not long ago, a wine was considered “vintage” when the weather allowed the grapes to achieve full ripeness… but if “vintage” is ripeness then, the logic goes, we should be able to super ripen the grapes to make a super-vintage wine every year, regardless of weather. This “too much of a good thing” group-think created a new “habit” that changed the definition of fine wine, making it more about technique than terroir. Same can be said of the use of oak barrels. At one time, barrel aging wine was about “elevage” - it was there to tame the tannin, to mellow the wine and support the fruit… then someone discovered that if some oak was good, a lot would be even better. Some wine was aged in 100% new oak and then, just before bottling, run through another round of new oak for a wine with 200% new oak! Or, if new barrels were too expensive for the wine’s targeted price point, oak staves, oak chips, or oak flavorings were used.
The entire category of Merlot went through a period of over-manipulation to the point where it almost became extinct. It was planted in areas where it did not naturally do well and then manufactured to fit a flavor profile by picking at high sugars, de-alcoholizing, de-acidulating, over-using oak, etc. to the point where it no longer tasted like a varietally correct Merlot - but instead was rich and sweet and flabby and, for a while, incredibly successful until it was very publicly trashed by Hollywood. Then, it mercifully went out of fashion. In many ways, this public flogging saved Merlot. It returned the variety to the artisan who let their Merlot thrive on sites well suited to the ripening cycle of the grape, allowing us to change our “habit” by recalibrating our palates to something more authentic, pure, and elegantly simple.
“Who shall describe, who shall understand, the charm of these repasts, composed of a quartern loaf, of cherries, of a little cheese, and of a half pint of wine, which we drank together. Friendship, confidence, intimacy, sweetness of soul, how delicious are your seasonings!”
Jean Jacques Rousseau
Merlot is back and here to stay. The classic style of RSV Merlot makes it a delicious partner for this modern twist on a classic Hungarian dish. The freshness of RSV’s Merlot comes from the bright acidity achieved from the cool clay soils found in RSV’s Carneros Vineyards. Deep cherry and plum aromas and flavors with a kiss of dried herb play nicely off the peppers in the “Paprikash”. This dish is as soulful as the Merlot that accompanies it. Cook it up now or lay that bottle down for a year or two or ten and delay instant gratification….or not.
Until the Next Wine....
2012 was the antithesis of 2011. One of the driest winters on record was saved by a “March Miracle” spring rain. As the clouds cleared it laid the groundwork for practically perfect flowering conditions. The exceptional growing season culminated in just about flawless ripening weather, for great concentration and flavor development with lower potential alcohols.
RSV’s organically farmed Carneros vineyards with their clay-based soils are ideal for Merlot. If you farm it well, the wine can be simply made for optimal expression. The grapes were destemmed and allowed to ferment on feral yeast. Once dry, the wine was racked from tank to French oak barrels (30% new) where they rested in the caves for almost two years.