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UNBELIVEABLE MERLOT VALUE - Printable Version

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- Jerry D Mead - 03-12-1999 02:00 PM

This year's Julio Gallo Memorial Trophy for Best New World Merlot goes to Montpellier 1997 "California" ($7). I think Julio might have smiled at the idea of a bargain wine winning a trophy bearing his name. The good news is this wine is widely available.

This immediately drinkable, luscious cherry-fruited Merlot, beat out the big boys and expensive competitors in the taste-off of top Merlots from each of four price categories. Imagine the judges' surprise when they discovered they had picked the least expensive. A cousin of mine has already bought two cases (found it on sale for $4.99!!!!)and touted a dozen friends on it...all of them happy.

This is another brand from the folks who bring you Forest Glen and Hacienda, among others. The Forest Glen ($10) also won a gold, received a "Best Buy" from me some weeks ago and I'm told Wine Enthusiast had it pegged as one of its Best Values of the Year.

Re the Montpellier...better chance you'll find it at a supermarket than at a specialty store.

JDM


- Randy Caparoso - 03-20-1999 03:53 PM

Thanks, Curmdugeon. I'll look it up. Personally, I'm nutso over the '96 Heron Merlot from the Languedoc, which must retail for $9-$10 in most major markets. While not tested in competitions, it is every night in eight of our restaurants; and guests are flipping out. My second and third choices are two made by Riccardo Cotarella in Italy -- the '96 Stella Merlot (for about $6, super easy, purely and lusciously cherry-like with zero oak)and the slightly richer, yet soft and supple '96 Falesco Merlot (about $10).

All of the above, by the way, are featured in Joshua Wesson's Best Cellars stores in Manhattan and Boston (and soon to come to Seattle). Great, great stores. Why? Because all they sell are 100 choices at a time of wines retailing for $10 or less -- no less, no more! Each selection is merchandised with Wesson's enjoyably humorous, yet detailed, tasting notes. In-store tastings are held daily from about 2:00 to 5:00 (you can literally walk in and ask to taste anything -- with some limits, of course); except on Saturdays, when Wesson likes to do cooking demo/tastings at around 11:00 a.m. Now there's a guy that knows a great cheap wine when he finds it (there's al ot to be said for being able to observe customers' immediate reaction and gauging sales in that kind of store).