Big Ol’ Merlot

*Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample from Matthiasson Family Winery.

Not too long ago, which in my world means I’m actually keeping up now in a reasonable span of time with the wine samples coming through my door, the folks from Matthiasson Family Winery in Napa contacted me to send some samples of their super small production wines.  The Matthiassons produce just over 500 cases of wine a year and at this time, make 3 different wines, a white blend that I loved and wrote about last week, a red blend that I have to taste soon, and this, their 2005 Red Hen Vineyard Napa Valley Merlot.  It had a real cork closure, clocked in at 14.8% alcohol by volume, and retails for $75. Only 70 cases of this wine were produced.

I have to tell you, I’m really impressed with the quality of the wines I’ve tasted from Matthiasson so far. I’ll agree with Joe that the white is already topping my list of favorite wines of the year (though, to be fair, I’ve only tasted about 60 wines so far this year!) and I also really enjoyed the Merlot.

I will warn you, the wines from Matthiasson are unfiltered and unfined. So you will find sediment in them. Decant if you prefer to remove it because if you’re like me and want to drink the wine to the last drop…well, a mouthful of sediment is not the most pleasant experience in the world.

On the nose I found blueberry, plums, dark chocolate, pepper, spice, vanilla cream, very blue fruit with some red fruit hiding underneath, perhaps raspberries, and cedar.  The nose had huge fruit, and showed a bit of alcohol at first, but that blew off to reveal a wonderfully layered, fruity nose that displays all the wonderful things Merlot can be.  In the mouth I got flavors of blueberry, plum, black cherry, pepper, chocolate, earth, and spice.

The mouth on this wine showed mostly fruit.  It needed some serious air time, this is a big red wine that would really benefit from decanting.  I felt like I killed this one far too young…it had the structure, acidity, and tannins to see it through many more years of aging in the cellar.  But pick this one up, decant it for a few hours (or stick it away and pull it back out in a few years) and enjoy all that can be great about the much maligned Merlot grape.