Saturday, March 17, 2007

Rating: ***- 2002 Walter Stamp Merlot, Sonoma CA

Review: Today I'm bargain hunting for us. Here's a Sonoma County merlot in the price range of single-digits. I'm intrigued because some of my favorite merlots hail from Sonoma. There's something in the terroir that seems to bring out acid, earth, tannin and general "lift" to merlots from Sonoma, versus other U.S. regions. So, I'm psyched to try this, but realistic about expectations because of the price.

The color of this wine is about what you'd expect... a medium, dark red. The aromas are not jumping out of the glass, but do demonstrate that warm, comforting, chocolatey oakiness you sometimes want from an American merlot. On the palate, the oak is a bit of an affront, though the taste settles right down. It actually settles almost too quickly, going from upfront oak to finishing tannins with almost too little time spent in the comforting middle. This is a bit like a nice frame with no picture in it. Aroma... start... finish... hey, where's the beef?! At first blush, I think I'd be fine never to sip this again. So, according to my scheme, the wine is worthy of 2 stars, with a + because I particularly enjoyed this first encounter. But... I am curious as to whether some fruit will come back to the middle. That will just nudge it to the 3 star level because I would be curious to try it again at another time (though I would have to say it is on probation, so to speak).

For comparison, I have a review from merchant Wine Buyer. Here's what they said: "The somewhat subdued nose of blackberry and cherry gives way to much more fruit on the palate. Black cherry, raspberry and blackberry flavors dominate this juicy merlot."

My reactions were somewhat reversed from theirs: comforting nose, subdued flavors. Any way you look at it though, fabulous value.

No comments:

Post a Comment