I’m not embarrassed about liking Merlot, even though I risk being excommunicated by some of my brethren. As the French have proven, merlot at its best is the best. (check out the Petrus Pomerol, if you’ve got a $3,000 laying around) Yes, California wineries abused this versatile grape in the 80s and 90s and Sideways drove a stake in its heart in 2004. But merlot is a beautifully supple grape that balances beautifully and can transform a modest meal into a succulent supper….if it is well done.
I was excited to discover a Napa merlot being offered by Cameron Hughes – a very versatile negociant whose bottlings are often carried by Costco. CH reportedly produced 6500 cases of this merlot, so my hopes were raised further. Even better, it is being offered at a very reasonable $11.59 (after a $3 discount). I drank it with two meals over a period of two days, paired with a salmon salad and a humble hamburger. In both cases, the merlot disappointed. The nose was weak, if non-existent. The taste was all front-forward blackberry fruit with no discernible finish and a surprisingly high tannic quotient for a Napa merlot. I took the two days to taste it out of concern that it needed oxygen, but I fear it needed CPR, rather than O2.
For the same money, Washington-based Milbrandt is producing some killer merlot at a similar price point and has been known to pop up at Costco over the years. And the H3 Merlot is both readily available and a safe bet at Costco. Keep an eye out for the rarely-sighted Milbrandt and take a pass on CH’s most recent offering.
— Reviewed by Michael S
Rating: 82 points
Costco item number: 818040