Three Heart Warming Merlots: Waterbrook, Bolen, and Robert Foley

Monday, January 17, 2011

We got pounded with snow here in Massachusetts last week.  As much as it sucks battling through a cold winter there's a certain amount of pleasure to be drawn from being snowed in with no place to go and nothing to do other than crack open a bottle of heart warming red wine.
A trio of Merlots found their way into the rotation during the week.  They say if a winery is still making Merlot at this point they're probably making good Merlot.  I don't know if that's necessarily true, but I find Merlot to be a value play compared to Cabernet Sauvignon from domestic producers frequently, and for immediate consumption Merlot can often run circles around Cabernet.  It's kind of like Barbaresco to Barolo - if you're buying it for tonight Merlot and Barbaresco show a lot better than their rough and tumble counterparts.

Here are my thoughts on Merlots for your shopping consideration...

2007 Waterbrook Reserve Merlot
Release Price: $22
14.5% Alcohol
3,030 Cases Produced

Aromatically vibrant immediately upon opening with welcoming aromas of caramel on top of warm black cherry preserves. But there's a hole in this wine's soul - at least in this bottle.  The initial attack on the palate is straight fruit, but things fall off right after that and never quite rise to the level the of the aromas.  It's a bit of a let down because the nose on this wine is amazing.

88/100 WWP: Very Good
Purchased at: VinoDivino

2007 Bolen Family Estates Merlot
Release Price: $60
15.2% Alcohol
250 Cases Produced

Visually this wine is less opaque than you'd expect given its bold flavors. On the nose I get rich red and black fruit, mocha, and cinnamon. Floods the palate with a satisfying rich presence. Velvety mouth feel. Long finish. 15.2% alc and it shows at points. Overall - outstanding. Sample for review.

92/100 WWP: Outstanding
Sample for review.

2005 Robert Foley Merlot
Release Price: $50
14.6% Alcohol
1,000 Cases Produced

Dark fruit on the nose.  Milk chocolate on the palate.  Superb velvety mouth feel.  Everything is well-integrated at this point.  Nicely balanced.

91/100 WWP: Outstanding
Purchased at: The Wine Cellar of Stoneham

Question of the Day: What are some of your favorite domestic Merlots?


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