As my home improvement frenzy and my year of Toastmasters Directorship slow down to just mild pandemonium, I’m finally able to again enjoy my primary focus, and that is wine.

It has been a hectic 12 months. It was a year ago that I decided that having my own one-story, small home in a quiet community was what I needed for the next stage of my life.  After a maniacal search fraught with adventure, I found my residential soulmate, Casa Wineaux.

And then there was escrow.

{{{shudder}}}

When I received my keys in my greedy little paws, I got straight to work fixin’ stuff. Many months later (as the saying goes, it takes twice as long and costs thrice as much…at least), I’m mostly finished with this year’s projects. Yes, it will continue because crazy.

I love Casa Wineaux, and Toastmasters has brought out the leader in me that I didn’t even know existed. But boy, did I miss wine! More importantly, I miss my wine travel. Pretending to be an HGTV star takes up a lot of time, effort, and money. A quick look at my time bank at The Day Job™ and the actual bank account shows how true that is!

In Search of the Perfect Merlot

The ideal Merlot may or may not exist because there are so many styles grown in just about every wine country. My version of the ideal Merlot may differ from others because of what I like and what my experiences have been.

We’ve all seen this little interchange between Miles and Jack – and if you haven’t, why not?!?

Even though I’ve read the book, I’m still not sure why Miles declared his hatred of Merlot. Baffling.

My first significant experience with Merlot happened when I was a Wineaux neophyte. My date and I opened up a bottle of Merlot, and I poured it into a decanter. Instead of drinking it right away, we decided to go out to dinner. When we returned, I poured the wine into our glasses.

Lordy lordy.

Our wine was a moderately priced Merlot from Whitehall Lane Winery. The wine was dark with just a bit of translucence, and it was redolent of plums, blackberries, and cherries with black tea, espresso, and chocolate bringing up the rear. It was smooth, tasty, with defined but moderate tannins, and had a long, lovely finish. I believe that the vintage was 2000, but I may be mistaken. (Label shown is example of Whitehall Lane’s labels in that time frame).

While that wasn’t the only tasty Merlot I’ve had in the intervening years, it was certainly one that got my attention and allowed me to fully explore my newly acquired wine tasting and analysis skills.

At a Southern Oregon Winery - Beauteous!

At a Southern Oregon Winery – Beauteous!

Naturally, since then I’ve had many Merlots of various styles and vintages, including those from Washington, Oregon (yes – Southern Oregon rocks Merlots), and of course, the Merlot mother country, France. I’ve actually had a St. Emilion and Pomerol or two, but always at someone else’s largesse. See above note about the bank account.

Naturally, wines from France, from Washington State, from Oregon, from California and all of the other wine countries are each going to be a little different. My concern is maintaining typicity and deciding what that typicity is. I know what I think it is.

Summer Red Wine – Even in Vegas

Columbia Valley Merlot

Columbia Valley Merlot

So despite the fact that I, like Miles, am the über Pinot Noir aficionado, that doesn’t mean that other reds are given short shrift. Far from it. Merlot is an excellent red wine for summer, as are Beaujolais, Nebbiolo, and Garnacha. Syrah and Zinfandel are always great to have around for summer, especially when the BBQ grill is going. Personally, I have a hard time with Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec because they are real bruisers. Unless, of course, there’s a candlelit, air-conditioned romantic dinner involved…

If you find a great Merlot with the plummy, coffee, and chocolate notes (and others, too – we are talking about a complex varietal here!), please let me know. I do want a %#!^& Merlot!