October is International Merlot Month. If you look on social media for the #MerlotMe tag, you will see we are not alone in posting about this varietal.
Merlot is one of the five noble grapes of Bordeaux. It is also the most planted grape in that region, with 60% of all plantings. In Napa, it is the third most planted grape; behind Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay. Taking California as a whole, it slips into fourth place behind Zinfandel.
Disclaimer: The Merlot that we review for Merlot Month was a sample sent to us by Markham Vineyards.
Markham is a winery with a tasting room on Highway 29 a little North of St Helena. One of our close friends has been a member there for many years. He has taken there on several times for a tasting. 2018 is Markham’s fortieth year in business. With the 2015 vintage being the thirty-fifth release of their Merlot.
The 2015 Markham Merlot has Cabernet Sauvignon and Petite Sirah added. With the grapes sourced from vineyards in Oak Knoll, Calistoga, and Yountville. The blend is 86% Merlot, 12% Cab, and 2% Petite Sirah. Fermentation was in stainless steel with eleven days in contact with skins. The Merlot was then aged for fifteen months in 28% new oak. The suggested retail price is $26.99
Tasting the Markham Merlot
The nose was rich and intense, with notes of blackcurrant, cloves, and cinnamon. A delightful welcoming aroma that raised expectations for the wine.
We were not disappointed when we took a taste. Good acidity backed flavours of cassis, raspberry, and blackberry. At first, the tannins were subtle but they gained prominence in the long finish. Pepper emerged in that finish.
The wine manages that difficult trick of being complex and approachable. An eminently drinkable wine, yet one loaded with nuances. If asked, I would have guessed at a price around $40. Thus, the suggested retail price represents excellent value. On wine.com, I have seen the wine at $19.99 a bottle.
*note: We received this bottle as a sample. All thoughts and opinions are our own