On the northeast flank of Saint-Émilion, the home of luxury wines like Ausone, Pavie and Valandraud, is Montagne Saint-Émilion. The soils, a mixture of clay, limestone and sand, are similar and the wines are too. Unbelievable values can be found in Montagne Saint Emilion, and here’s one that has earned my highest value status, a Hall of Fame Value. Chateau Haut-Plaisance Montagne Saint-Émilion 2015 is 80% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon. Dense, dark fruit and expressive flavors of soil (terroir) take the lead with the barrel in the back (no new oak used). I get black currants, dried blueberries, dark chocolate, […]
This Merlot-based red (86% Merlot, 14% Cab Sauv) is a broad-shouldered, hearty red wine…hardly what the majority of wine drinkers equate with Merlot. Black fruits, sweet spices like anise, clove and roasted cinnamon. Cocoa, mint and rosemary. It’s not shy on new, toasty oak yet it has an extreme concentration of fruit and glycerine to match the barrel. (The last statement can be made about every Behrens Family wine I can remember.)
58% Merlot, 42% Cabernet Franc, co-ferment, from vineyard in Southwest Napa Valley (edge of Carneros, in fact). An honest-to-goodness Right Bank Bordeaux style, Cave Dog red shows off dark red berry & cherry compote, dry aged beef, soy sauce, lavender, and gently roasted coffee beans. While all the flavors will expand with bottle age, it is still a round, smooth-textured, delicious, gorgeous wine now. Napa winemaker/winery owner veteran Michael Havens launched Cave Dog with his 2014 red wine. There are 3 Cave Dog wines: Spanish white varieties Albariño and Godello and this red. I recommend all three wines whole-heartedly, past […]
Right Bank Bordeaux-style blend of 60% Cabernet Franc & 40% Merlot, all from a single vineyard in the Carneros “Banana Belt.” This is rich, very strong wine showing a lot of old-world personality. Black currants, dried blueberries sun-dried Provence herbs, cigar box and bittersweet chocolate smells and flavors, all framed by 80% new French oak that melts into the wine seamlessly. Medium/full bodied, fine and firm tannins, medium acidity, 25 second finish of soil, spice and fruit (in that order of strength). It’s savory, Bordeaux-ish quality means it is not a wine for the masses. It IS a wine for […]
Merlot based Bordeaux-style (“Right Bank”) blend with a twist: 10% Petite Sirah included. Once again, in the realm of Napa Valley Bordeaux-style reds, HG3 gives you A LOT of happiness for the price. Seductive sweet spicy oak and jammy berry/cherry nose continues on the palate along some kirsch (cherry liqueur), black truffle, cocoa and new leather handbag. Rich, medium/low acidity, soft tannins and perfectly ripe, the HG3 is drinking surprisingly well right now. Hourglass is a super-high quality Napa winery that is a dependable pick when you’re looking for high-end Cabernets and Merlot. Their “HG3,” a relatively new wine in […]
Climber Red in 2015 is 96% Merlot, 3% Petite Verdot, 1% Malbec. Strong flavors, layer upon layer of smells and flavor and true-to-the-grape winemaking make this one of my Awesome Values and inclusion on the Best of the Best list. Get dried black currants and blueberries along with bits of cedar, tobacco leaf, bittersweet chocolate and mint. Boasts a solid structure and energizing acidity. I wish the wine was labeled as Merlot to better help wine consumers embrace the grape. Clif Family is one of Napa Valley’s best winery visits, and my favorite winery that is open for walk-in guests. […]
100% Merlot from one of Bordeaux’s most consistently good “satellite appellations.” Deep red/ruby color. Smell clay and gravel-heavy earth, cinnamon stick and red & black currants. The taste is a marriage of fruit and soil. Bittersweet chocolate, cigar wrapper and black truffle take precedent, but don’t dominate, the dark berry and currant. Savory, earth-driven finish with firm tannins. This is definitive quality French Merlot at its best.
Napa Valley winemaker Benoit Touquette, a protege of winemaking stars Michel Rolland and Andy Erickson, flew over the pond to make this Merlot-based Red Bordeaux that provides immediate satisfaction. Dark berry/cherry fruits are supported by sweet Indian spices, black truffle, cigar wrapper and vanilla. Medium/full body, juicy, soft tannins and an impressive 15 second finish make this a very satisfying house red wine. As a wine merchant, I placed this wine in both the New World and Old World sections of the store because of it’s modern winemaking style and packaging. It sold well in both areas, as it should. […]