Varietal: Merlot (89% Merlot; 11% Cabernet Sauvignon)
Region: California – Napa Valley – USA
Deep ruby red in color with aromas of blueberry, cassis, and cocoa. Berry fruit, tobacco, dark chocolate, and refined new oak all mix in the mouth. Pairs well with beef, lamb, BBQ, roasted chicken, pasta, and grilled vegetables.
Recommendations: I’ve never tried to hide my apprehension about Merlot. I’ve had bad ones in the past that had put a bad taste in my mouth (no pun intended), but had recently decided to give it a second go, partly due to some impressive Merlots coming out of Virginia. With that in mind, I opened the Folie a Deux for a dinner of pasta and red sauce.
I was instantly impressed with the deep ruby/garnet coloring of the wine, and I managed to pick up some white pepper and berry on the nose. Dark chocolate and oak were most prevalent for me in the mouth, which was a fine pairing with the dinner I’d prepared. Tannins on the finish can certainly be attributed to the big of Cabernet Sauvignon added to the wine, but it was a fairly lush, full-bodied wine – what I’d been reading about Merlot but had yet to really experienced from a California bottle.
Now, all that being said, I have a big complaint with this wine – 14.5%/vol alcohol is just too much for any wine. I know that I’ve complained before about the seeming race to see which vineyard can create the wine with the highest alcohol content that people will still drink, but it has to stop. I was barely able to get any aromas or flavors, and only those that were bold because of the aroma and flavor of alcohol that permeated this wine.
While the wine was fine with my meal, the sauce helped to cut the alcohol, by itself I found it less pleasurable. I did appreciate the full-bodied nature of the wine, and I think that with a bit less alcohol it would be a truly spectacular wine. That being said, unless you really like the taste of alcohol I have a hard time recommending this wine.
Special thanks to the International Wine of the Month Club for supplying the wine for this review.