Catching a Falling Star

Monday, November 8, 2010

Reminder: We're still running the Scoop the Spectator contest where you can win a $75 gift certificate for guessing their 2010 Wine of the Year.  Check it out and lob in your guess now!

The 2007 Merryvale Profile is a red Bordeaux blend that retails for $150 and was rated 93 points by Wine Spectator.  I think I've paid $20 a glass for the wine at The Capital Grille in the past.  The winery produces a broad range of highly regarded wines including a $35 Syrah that was rated 92 points in 2006 and 90 points in 2007.  As a value hunter, this kind of track record establishes Merryvale as a reputable producer I'd be interested in getting to know better.

When I saw an offer from Blanchard's for the 2002 Merryvale Syrah for the unbelievably low price of $4.83 per bottle when purchased by the 12 bottle case I was skeptical.  Skeptical about whether the wine was any good in the first place, whether it still had any life, and skeptical about how it had been stored since release.  But at $55 a case - how bad could it be?  It reminded me of the famous $4/bottle Tiz Red Bin Ends offered up last year that's served me incredibly well as a 3rd bottle to open when friends are over when nobody is interested in active assessment of the wine - but rather just one more glass of wine whatever it might be.

A couple nights ago I had a highly regarded 2002 from Napa - a Switchback Ridge Merlot.  91 Points from Wine Spectator and a release price of $50.  I caught it for $30 and thought it was fantastic.  I thought this gave me a good framework for comparing this 2002 Merryvale Syrah.

The first thing I noticed when opening the case was that the label looked subtly dated.  I thought I just being picky but have a look at the 2007 label vs. the 2002.  I think the 2007 is a lot sleeker and more contemporary:

2007 Merryvale Syrah
2002 Merryvale Syrah
So how did the 2002 taste?  You know what - I thought it had a lot of similarities with the 2002 Switchback Ridge and that's a very good thing.  The mouth feel of both was round and mature.  Neither wine went pruney, raisiny or porty.  Tannins had faded substantially so the wines were smooth.  They still had a vibrant edge despite their age.  These aren't aged wines - only 8 years old.  Both might have been better a year or three ago but they're both quite enjoyable right now.  Here are my notes on the Merryvale:

2002 Merryvale Syrah
15.0% Alcohol
Est $35 Release Price/$4.83 on closeout at Blanchard's

Dark in color. Nearly opaque. Slightly murky. Aromas of blueberries, blackberries, and violets. Great mouth feel - round and voluptuous. Just a touch of heat on the backend (it's 15.0% alcohol) but the finish is bright enough for me to say this still has a bit of enjoyable life.

On the second night, this wine is even more impressive.  Earthy aromas pair beautifully with ripe round fruit.  Very impressive.

88/100 WWP: Very Good

This deal sold out in just a couple of hours.  I share this tale with you to encourage you to get on Blanchard's E-mail list.  It's one of the better lists in Massachusetts.

Further Reading:
  • It's almost time to roll-up the best wine deals of 2010.  Here's my list from 2009 - I think I'll have even more to draw on this year.
  • It's also almost time to take stock of the best wines of 2010.  I have one in mind that's still haunting me and ironically I had it New Year's Day.  Subscribe to the WWP so we can keep in touch.
Where are you finding hyper-value these days?  The $5 category at Trader Joe's?  Closeouts?  What's working well for you?  I'd love to hear from you in the comments.

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