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Rated B Reviews Wine

Review: 2003 Ty Caton Merlot


Sideways made Merlot unpopular, and it’s still fashionable to bash the grape and the wine it makes. And you know what? The bashers have a point. Merlot is one of the least interesting wines around. It’s the red wine equivalent of chenin blanc. And in fact, I have more chenin in my wine cellar than merlot.

I bought Ty Caton’s 2003 Merlot as part of a wine.woot and figured I’d break it out with a simple pasta and marinara dinner.

I’m unimpressed. The nose is pleasant if expected, but on the first sip I was instantly besieged with dust, chalk, and sawdust flavors. That’s not a terrible thing in a wine, but it shouldn’t dominate the flavor profile. After opening up the wine reveals its berry core, predominantly blueberry, and an oaky backbone. I didn’t quite catch the vanilla finish the producer promises, though I’d have liked to.

Even Caton’s Merlot isn’t all Merlot: It’s 18.5% Cabernet and 0.5% Malbec. Curious, but probably a good decision considering where this wine might otherwise have ended up.

B / $27 / tycaton.com

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2003 Ty Caton Merlot



Christopher Null

Christopher Null is the founder and editor in chief of Drinkhacker. A veteran writer and journalist, he also operates Null Media, a bespoke content company.

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