2013 Merlot, Bogle Vineyards

Bogle is readily available to you, I know, and if you’re reading about the 2013 Merlot on Notes Of Note it’s not because you’re wrestling over some life-changing decision with your vino. Bogle Vineyards, after all, probably has a sampling of their entire lineup in your local grocery or big box supermarket. Why then?

2013 Merlot, Bogle Vineyards, Clarksburg, California, USA.

2013 Merlot, Bogle Vineyards, Clarksburg, California, USA.

You’re reading further, perhaps, because (like me) you recognize wine sometimes makes an impact on our lives that is greater than just its taste or its scarcity. Maybe you’ll come a little further and know what Bogle means to this guy?

First the nuts and bolts: This 2013 Merlot accompanied about 10 ounces of perfectly cooked steak, replete with good grill marks, a baked potato, and lemon-drizzled asparagus. It was fine in that regard, but I’d have preferred a Cabernet in hindsight.

Nevertheless, Bogle will always remind me of a great Boston meal, a work dinner with new clients. An Italian joint, steps leading down from the street to a dimly lit dining room where new colleagues met to hash out terms and next steps. We had an Amarone (which has left a similar indelible imprint on my brain) as well as the Bogle–which lit up my new contact, a world-class dental ceramist. With wild gestures from Greek hands he talked eagerly about this wine, which I’d never heard of beforehand. The wine itself is fine, but the memory of his excitement about Bogle is, oddly enough, far more lasting. It’s the kind of thing that, if you’re still reading here, is perhaps you recognize too in some of the wines you’ve tasted. Feel free to share…

2014 Merlot, Wente Vineyards

It is just a short flight from JFK to the ROC tonight and I wasn’t originally going to have a cocktail on the trip. We were delayed while the ground crew flipped the late-inbound flight, however, and by the time we got this silver bird rolling I had already power napped for a few moments on the tarmac and was excited to get to Rochester. So, okay, an excuse for a glass of vino…

…I also chose this drink because I’ve had the pleasure of visiting Wente in the past, a worthwhile field trip with my good bud and his wife out in the Livermore Valley. This is an airplane red, and those of you in the know are already picturing it being served just a bit too cold from the galley to really enjoy. That’s sort of the case here, but you make up for lost time by eagerly splashing your plastic cup–easily warmed stemware at its American Airlines finest.

2014 Merlot, Wente Vineyards, Lissimore Valley, California, USA.

2014 Merlot, Wente Vineyards, Livermore Valley, California, USA.

It’s a young grape, one without the deeper flavors (you can tell even before checking the year) or nuances yet juicy and fruity nevertheless. Enjoyable. The 2014 Merlot from Wente and its Selected Estates isn’t going to medal in any competition this weekend, but the family does good work, and you know some effort went into this red. It’s comforting. I sipped contentedly and wished away the miles and the encumbrances of a long work week–thoughts on the horizon and the fun weekend in store.

2004 Merlot, Buena Vista Ramal Estate Vineyard Series

This bottle has been along for quite the journey. It shipped eastward from our favorite Sonoma vineyard several years ago, originally landing in our NJ home, where it somehow escaped consumption for several years–perhaps as many as four or five? I’m not sure if I thought we should just have at LEAST one Buena Vista bottle on hand at all times, or perhaps I was caught up in a post-Sideways backlash against Merlot. Even good Merlot!

2004 Merlot, Buena Vista Ramal Estate Vineyard Series

2004 Merlot, Buena Vista Ramal Estate Vineyard Series, Sonoma, California, USA.

Regardless, this 2004 Buena Vista Ramal Estate Vineyard Series Merlot eventually moved with us down south, surviving 18 unopened months in our rental before sliding to our new home just two months ago. And then the cork came off and we started pouring. Who’s ready for theirs?

I confess that I made little record of the tasting, and an Ida’s Selection Pinot Noir (also from Buena Vista) followed close on its heels so I have some recency bias toward the Pinot. Didn’t record our meal here either. Based on some research, I can tell you the grapes originate from the Carneros appellation, a slice of heaven right in the corner of Sonoma and Napa’s southern boundaries that produces some great adult beverages like this one.

Since finishing the 2004, I’ve done some searching of Wine Searcher and other other retailers without finding this particular vintage. I’m not sure it was a great year or bottle, at least to critics, but I can tell you this one went fast and engendered many warm smiles in our home. Happy hunting!



The Ones That Got Away – Winter 2015 Sampler


2012 Biltmore Estate Merlot Limited Release, North Carolina, USA; 2013 Relax Riesling, Schmitt Sohne GmbH, Germany; 2007 Virgen de Aguila Artigazo, Edicion Limitada, Carinena, Spain; 2013 Chateau Ste. Michelle Pinot Gris, Columbia Valley, Washington, USA; 2012 Red Blend, Bell Canyon Napa Reserve, Napa Valley, California, USA; 2012 Buena Vista Pinot Noir Private Reserve, Sonoma Valley, California, USA.

2014 Dona Dominga Merlot

Courtesy of U.S. Airlines is the 2014 Dona Dominga Merlot, and when you’re trapped in midair for a few hours you don’t get too picky about your vino options. And this particular bottle was served to me after escaping a snowy NYC airport and four hours of delays. The flakes were falling fast and furious, and I had had my fingers crossed the whole time hoping to get out. Delays and cancellations were happening all around me and my fellow passengers, so by the time we actually took flight the Dominga was perfect.

2014 Dona Dominga Merlot, Chile.

2014 Dona Dominga Merlot, Colchagua Valley, Chile.

Having said that, this one was less about a flavor profile or specific taste. Was it a bit too cold when served? Yes. But was it one of the best glasses of wine I’ve had in some time? Given the occasion, let me say absolutely.

2012 Castlebank Napa Valley Red Wine

I was hooked as soon as I read the description for this big red. Not only am I completely a fan of Napa wines but complex reds too, and this one fits both bills. And on a Friday night, no less? That’s a trifecta.

2012 Castlebank Napa Valley Red Wine, California, USA.

2012 Castlebank Napa Valley Red Wine, California, USA.

David Schlottman, recognized as Winemaker of the Year by the Quarterly Review of Wines, brings this one together in a tumbling glass of brick red goodness. It’s a combination of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Malbec, and the dark fruits in here do not disappoint. The 2012 Castlebank combines grapes from Howell Mountain, Oakville, and St. Helena and, even more importantly, brought a big smile to this face–sorely needed after a rough week at the ol’ salt mines. I’ll try to share more about its taste in a subsequent post, as I’m going to open another bottle of this plush wine tomorrow night too.

The 2012 Castlebank I’d recommend you share with friends over grilled steaks, some good char on their edges and grill marks too, and perhaps a baked potato and baked brussel sprouts. The blackberries resident in the ‘bank will weave a compelling tale in this environment, or even fireside if you’re trying to escape the chill of a February winter evening. And you should see how it inks up the glass when you pour it–pretty cool and well worth the price of admission. I’m glad we have three more of these to go!

Interesting postscript: In 2012, Napa County had over 19,500 acres planted with Cabernet Sauvignon, making it the leading producer in a state renowned for Cab.