For many, Merlot is the nice guy of the red wine world. A smooth, warmhearted wine with the comfort of a favourite couch or sweater. Relaxation wine. Merlots from warm climates can be particularly seductive with ripe plummy flavours and chocolate-like richness.
But not all Merlots are crafted alike. Italian editions are lightish with a gutsy, rustic character. Wines for the supper table as opposed to the couch or party scene.
Local Merlot tends to be in the Italian style. Invigorating wines to get the palate going.
I cannot explain why, but many of our local reds have this gutsy Italian quality. I find it in all the grape varieties, even Pinot. But that’s another story. For now I’d like to recommend some rustic local Merlots that are good partners for hearty pastas, or any red meats.
Peller Estates 07 Cabernet/Merlot is dusty dry and a bit challenging. But note how it invigorates the palate – the original purpose of wine. A great value in local red.
You might expect Colio 07 Merlot ‘Girls Night Out’ to be an easy drinking crowd-pleaser but it’s not. Instead, it’s a hearty wine with the give-me-food quality of Italian reds. Bring on the lasagne, or braised beef or lamb.
Hillebrand 07 ‘Trius’ Merlot has my favourite mix of lively and rustic personalities. Lots of earthy, traditional wine character. Truly local, truly good. A second bottle please.
Peninsula Ridge 07 Merlot is gutsy stuff for sure. Lots of vigour and bite. Very rustic, very real. Could be French.
PELLER 07 Cabernet/Merlot, VQA Niagara 58628 $11.95
COLIO 07 Merlot ‘Girls Night Out’, VQA Ontario 89847 $12.95
HILLEBRAND 07 ‘Trius’ Merlot, VQA Niagara 587907 $14.75
PENINSULA RIDGE 07 Merlot, VQA Niagara 61101 $14.75