Friday, October 31, 2014

Review: $ Monarch Glen Merlot, California, 2007 (***+ = BEST VALUE), 2013 (**+)

Find prices and retail availability for bargain-priced California merlot.

By way of background:  This is Monarch Glen Merlot, California, 2007 and 2013, both finished at a very modest 12.5% alcohol.   The "California" designation on the label tells us nothing about where the grapes originate from in this very large state!

2013 Vintage, first sampling at one year since vintage date, October, 2014:

In the glass: Monarch Glen Merlot is light ruby red, hints of magenta.

On the nose: Poured at room temperature and swirled vigorously, shows soft red cherry notes.

On the palate: The primary elements on the palate are in fact bringing a fruity mid-palate fresh merlot grape note with subtle notes of bright red cherries and young blackberries.  Not a lot of stuffing, but the finish is clean and friendly.

In summary: Overall, two plus stars on the five-star Spirit of Wine scale.

Following long decant, shy nose, sleeker mid-palate, still clean finish.  Almost touches three stars.


2007 Vintage, first sampling at four years since vintage date, April, 2011:

In the glass: Monarch Glen Merlot is medium red, with some darker elements appearing in the center of the glass. 

On the nose: Poured cool with a brief decant and swirled vigorously, shows shy, sweet cherry and mashed strawberry elements.  From the aroma, seems like this will be simple, fruity but likely clean in its red cherry and plum flavors.

On the palate: The primary elements on the palate are in fact a somewhat deeper, more insistent mid-palate delivery of simple, but bold fruit.  Less plums and more rich blackberry.  Tannins and acids play back-up roles to the fruit, but still a nice balance overall in this mid-weight, ready-to-sip merlot.  The finish is short, straightforward, but does not cloy and is pleasingly clean and refreshing.

In summary: Overall, just touches three stars on the five-star Spirit of Wine scale, making this a best value at its entry-level price.

Following long decant, six hours in wide-bottomed  decanter: The nose has gone shy, almost dissipated entirely. The palate remains rich and poignant, perfume wrapping around deep fruit.  Manages a plus on top of its three stars for this complex, pleasant balance. And even longer decant, two days kept cool in partially filled bottle:Tangy red ink on the nose.  That tangy ink becomes an element on the palate too, bringing a perfumed red berry along.  Nice.

Updated review, over a year later,  June, 2012:  Still medium burgundy in the glass.  On the nose, deep strawberry shows some oxidization.  The palate remains rich and round.  It is at its peak, just leaning over into middle-age.   Still solid and tasty, however.

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