Merlot Day has come and gone, but considering how poorly Merlot wine has been selling (ever since Sideways, it’s true), there’s plenty of the stuff on the market ripe for the picking. Merlot of course has gotten a terribly bad rap in the last seven years. A lot of juice on the market is incredibly good — and inexpensive, too. It has none of the cachet of Cabernet or Pinot Noir, but next time you can’t decide what wine to drink, do me a favor and give a Merlot a try again. No longer the watery, tasteless varietal you might remember (or misremember) it as, California’s recent Merlot bottlings have gotten sophisticated and impressive.
St. Francis’s 2006 Merlot is a smooth operator, treading the line amiably between tart and lush. The nose offers jammy fruit — cherries and raspberries — but the body segues from that brash fruitiness into an unexpected creaminess. Wood, mint, and black fruit make their entrances before the relatively short finish comes along, a pleasant and easygoing, food-friendly farewell to the glass.
B+ / $16 / stfranciswinery.com