November is the wine where we celebrate Merlot day, thus this inspired me to choose a predominant Merlot for this month.
Merlot is loved for it’s boisterous black cherry flavors, supple tannins, and chocolatey finish. Having snubbed it a little bit in the past (probably after watching the movie Sideways), a well-made Merlot will always give you goosebumps.
You can find 100% Merlot but many times it is blended with Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, however, the predominance of the variety is always evident. Our first pick comes from a country that is not so mainstream when it comes to wine, or at least not so popular with many; Israel. We discovered this estate in 2005 and have been hooked ever since. Clos de Gat is situated in the foothills of the Judean mountains and the planting of the vines began in 1998.
The Har’el Merlot is a 100% Merlot. On the nose it reveals powerful aromas of blackberries and candied plums, which are enhanced by notes of earthy Mediterranean plants and herbs. On the palate, the wine is rounded and full-bodied with well-integrated tannins. The finish is long, complex and elegant. This wine goes very well with wintery dishes like casseroles, grilled meats and excellent with cheeses.
Our second choice is what we consider one of the best value (if not the best) Bordeaux wine on the market. Chateau Croix Mouton produces wines intended for pleasure, and excellent while still young put can still be kept for a few years. Entirely Merlot driven (97%), they are full bodied and rich in flavour, easy to drink but with finesse and a stunning display of fresh red fruit on the palate. After the release of its first vintage, Château Croix Mouton was very quickly recognised by Bordeaux wine experts as being excellent value for money. The ‘M’ on Château Croix Mouton’s label is special. It changes shape and colour each year to reflect the personality of each vintage. This is the Merlot I chose whether I am eating pizza or a rack of lamb.
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Another wine which is predominantly Merlot (50%) and also from a country which is still growing in popularity as in wine production is Chateau Kamnik Cuvee de Prestige from North Macedonia. A blend of Merlot, Vranec (local variety) and Cabernet Franc. Its appealing aroma of dark berries is complemented by spicy undertones and finishes with a long aftertaste. The complexity of this cuvée results from the 17-month ageing in new and partly used French and American oak barrels. The taste is full-bodied, with a high content of extract, soft velvety tannins that provide this wine with a bottle ageing capacity of several years. This is quite a powerful wine which will go well will dishes that have a very gamey flavour like pigeon for example.
Our last choice for the month has to come from the region where Merlot performs best and that is Bordeaux, Saint Emilion to be precise. One will be lost for choice with all the Chateaux producing amazing Merlot wines here however our choice is a wine that is affordable for most and punches well above its weight. Chateau Pindefleurs Saint Emilion Grand Cru. A blend of 90% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc. The owner, Madame Dominique Lauret-Mestreguilhem, believes that finding a balance between a traditional philosophy and modern techniques is the key to the harmony found in her wines. The vineyard’s name, which translates to “Flower Pine,” is particularly well-suited to the wine’s floral bouquet and charming body. Powerful yet delicate, deep yet refined, Château Pindefleurs can be enjoyed young, for the wine’s fresh, bright fruit, or cellared for a few years to reveal the length and elegance characteristic of the wines of Saint-Émilion. Like any other Merlot, this is a wine that can be enjoyed throughout the whole dinner from a nice cheese souffle to start, a nice rib roast and finishing off with some cheese.
Wish you all a great month ahead.