Tuesday Quick Sip – 2006 Cinnabar Merlot

2006 Cinnabar Merlot

Wine Info –

Grapes: 95% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon

Appellation: Paso Robles

Fermentation: whole berry fermentation in open top stainless steel tanks

Cooperage: 15 months in Hungarian and American Oak, 15% of which was new

Price: $21

cinnabar1My Tasting Notes –

Nose: blackberry, “meaty”, spice, clove, saddle leather

Taste: mint, black cherry, blackberry, oak, pine

Mouthfeel: full body, round and supple up front, leathery tannins at the finish

Finish: long and fruity with lingering brown spice flavors

Excellent full bodied Merlot that would even make Miles happy! Tons of layers that were a mix of dark rich fruit and spices and earthy notes of meat and pine. Not cheap but is comparable to the full bodied Merlot’s coming out of Washington state for twice the price.


Categories: $20-$30, merlot, wine review | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

Triple M – Martin Ray Merlot

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.


My Tasting Notes

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!



Categories: $10-$20, merlot, napa, wine review, wine tasting | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

All About Merlot

This Friday at the Wine Cellar Jeff is serving up Merlot in his series of educational wine tasting. So, on that note I thought I would write a few wine facts about Merlot.  Merlot sadly got a bad wrap a few years ago with the movie Sideways, as a result sales dipped slightly (and Pinot Noir sales and planting went through the roof) but it is back on top as far as red wine volume sales in the United States. 

Merlot, aka the little blackbird is one of the 5 grapes allowed in Bordeaux and was originally famous for its plantings and wines that it is the primary component of in the regions of St. Emillion and Pomerol.  Today Merlot is planted all over the world with fabulous, fruity, textured,  examples coming from California, Washington, Chile, and Virginia just to name a few.  For many years Merlot was used as a blending grape, being paired with it’s big brother Cabernet Sauvignon. The addition of Merlot to Cabernet adds subtle body and softens the sometimes harsh (edges) tannins of the wine providing a great balance and when done right a great wine.  Today, as mentioned above Merlot is planted everyone and stands alone on many tasting counters and wine shop shelves.  Some knockout examples I have had recently in the 100% Merlot category are the Northstar Columbia Valley, Grgich Hills and Imagery Estates Sunny Slope, all of which show that the grape has 2 very strong legs to stand on. (picture from wiki)

Tomorrow Jeff says he will be serving full bodied Merlots from around the world with examples from Argentina, Australia, Washington and California.  Those sound great but I would have liked to seen an example from St. Emillion or Pomerol, but maybe he will surprise us.

Remember the tasting is FREE from 5:00 – 8:00 tomorrow night.


Categories: merlot, wine cellar | 2 Comments


For those of you that read my blog you know how much I enjoy Grgich Hills for who they are, where they came from and the wine making philosophy they stand for. I got my first taste of what Grgich was all about not through a bottle of wine but by listening to a Graperadio podcast. The two part (Part 1 and Part 2) series introduced us to Miljenko “Mike” Grgich and how he first gained international notoriety after his Chateau Montelena Chardonnay won the 1976 Paris tasting. After learning about how Mike came of age as a great winemaker in Napa Valley I learned of his quest to keep on top of the best vineyard practices, ones that are good for the wine as well as the land. Being intrigued, I went out and got the book “Judgement of Paris” by George Taber and learned more about Mike Grgich as well the history of how Napa Valley came to be the wine mecca it is today.

I wrote a little while ago about the 2001 Grgich Cabernet Sauvignon that I was slightly disappointed with, mostly because of my preconceived notions of how I thought it should be and how I remembered it was from my visit to their tasting room in 2004.

Recently I pulled another Grgich out of the Cellar, this time it was the 2002 Merlot, about the same price point as the Cabernet, around $50. This was what I remembered about Grgich wine, a truly fabulous expression of the grape from start to finish.

My Tasting Notes

Color – Very dark ruby red

Nose – Cedar, pine, cherry, pomegranate, black tea, vanilla, corn husk

Taste – Black cherry, blueberry, blackberry, cardamom, cinnamon, under ripe green grapes

Mouthfeel – Full body, spicy yet soft and polished across the tongue

Finish – LONG, with the tannins leave a nice fuzzy feeling in the mouth

This was a big, complex, layered Merlot that shows the best of what California Merlot has to offer. Definitely on the New World end of the spectrum but not over the top displaying lots of great earth flavors layered with the fruit and spice. I would definitely recommend this wine if you are looking for a “BIG” full bodied Merlot. This is up there with the Northstar Merlot I had a few months ago from Washington State, but the Grgich offered more spice and a more tannic finish.


Click the icons below to add this post to your favorite Social Bookmarking site!

add to :: Add to Blinkslist :: add to furl :: Digg it :: add to ma.gnolia :: Stumble It! :: add to simpy :: seed the vine :: :: :: TailRank

Categories: grgich, merlot, napa, wine review | 3 Comments