From the unpredictable 2003 Napa vintage comes this Martin Ray Napa Valley Merlot. This powerhouse reminded me of some of the Merlots that I have tasted from Washington State with its dark round fruit flavors, good structure and firm tannic grip. In a world that is finally starting to warm back up the shunned grape post the Sideways phenomena, this Merlot definitely delivers.
We had this last night with what we call “poor mans” casserole. It is a baked gooey goodness full of veggies, soy ground beef, noodles and cheddar cheese that paired very nicely with the Merlot. The 2003 is blended with 11% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Cabernet Franc sat in French Oak barrels for 30 months, but the oak was integrated very nicely into the wine and was barely present in the flavor profile.
Nose – Blackberry, fudge, vanilla, anise, rhubarb
Taste – cherry, blackberry, leather, mint
Mouthfeel – smooth and round at the beginning with a quick change to fuzzy tannins
Finish – long with flavors of cherry and cola nut
This was a great value at $17, although I am not sure how much of the 2003 is still in stores and I was actually surprised to see this in our local wine shop. If you can find it give it a try!