1 – Merlot, on it’s own, from anywhere in the world, has never really excited me.
2 – I tend to avoid wines with a high stated alcohol by volume (ABV). I drink wine with food and my food doesn’t really like highly alcoholic wines.
Enter this week’s wine from Tinhorn Creek – the Merlot 2009. If my neighbours would be so kind as to take down their house, I would have a great view of this winery. (I mentioned that once about my other neighbour’s trees which blocked our southern view and then 6 months later after a wind storm, he cut them all down except one. Now we have a great view.)
Check out that ABV – 14.8% – Yikes! What was going to happen with my spicy BBQ pork steaks? I know this wine may have been slightly mismatched. But as a wine-guy and not a traditional ‘foodie’, when matching wines I try to err on the side of the wine. This means that even if the food isn’t as good as I’d hoped, the wine will still shine through above it.
The whole issue of high alcohol was put to rest with the first comment from my wife when she tasted the wine: “Wow, is this low alcohol?”
And it’s a Merlot.
But this wine is balanced – so well that the alcohol doesn’t even stick out. It’s got fruit (tons, not jammy or baked), oak (hints, very well proportioned) and acidity ( very well balanced), and the burn I was expecting from the high alcohol just wasn’t there. Just a long finish of plums, savoury spices, and cocoa. Wonderful stuff it was, and all things that I look for in a wine of any kind.
So, based on this wine, I will re-evaluate my avoidance of high alcohol wines but with some trepidation. Tinhorn Creek has been around for a while and they know how to deal with ‘challenging’ vintages and weird weather. I will likely be more willing to accept a higher alcohol wine from a vineyard of pedigree like that than a newer winery who has only been in business for a few years (i.e. less than a decade). Tinhorn Creek is more than capable of navigating these waters and with product like this humble Merlot, which retails for about $18, they can clearly walk the walk and talk the talk.
And I’ll be listening from now on.
Cheers from wine country!