A Merlot That’s Never Gone Out of Style

A Merlot That’s Never Gone Out of Style

This Napa Valley wine is delicious now, but promises an even better future

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imagesSome wines just don’t get any respect. Or, better stated, some wines go in and out of fashion. Most of you remember when Merlot was the hottest ticket going. We in the wine biz couldn’t keep the stuff – any stuff with that name attached – on the shelves. Then Merlot cooled and it still seems to be a guarded secret among buyers. Sort of like keeping the fact that you like Necco Wafers to yourself …

Well, some California producers have made superior Merlot through it all, and today’s wine could be called Exhibit A. It’s Markham, a Napa Valley winery synonymous with the grape. You will not be disappointed with this wine, from an estate that dates back to 1879. I recently drank a Markham Merlot from 1994, 20 years younger than today’s example. It was a revelation of balance, poise and texture. I don’t know if “today’s” Markham has that kind of structure or staying power, but few of you are going to wait!

2014 Markham Merlot, Napa Valley $26 srp

Deeply purple colored. A saturated, velvety nose of vanilla-covered quintessential Napa fruit. Raspberry and blackberry elements with notes of licorice, roasted espresso coffee and a surprising toffee-like aroma. Flavors are medium-bodied with clean plum and cherry nuances. Smooth and deceptively simple now, but delicious. Good acids promise an even better future. (86% Merlot, 12% Cabernet Sauvignon and 2% Petite Sirah) Drink now-2022.

89/100 points

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Arturo Ciompi
Trained as a classical clarinetist and conductor, Arturo plied his trade for many years in New York, performing with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, New York City Opera, the American Symphony and countless chamber music groups. While living in Durham, Arturo became the wine manager at two iconic gourmet stores: Fowler’s in Durham and Southern Season in Chapel Hill. He had a wine spot on NPR in the ’90s and has been a continuously published wine journalist since 1997. He has won national awards for his work and is currently writing for Durham Magazine and its weekly blog, “Wine Wednesdays”. In addition, he loves teaching the clarinet. Read more on his website.