Los Carneros of Napa Valley - Printable Version

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- mrdutton - 05-16-2001 05:50 PM

Just to do something different I popped open a bottle of 1996 Robert Sinskey Vineyards Los Carneros Merlot.

I got fruit on the nose and the palate - seemed plum-like to me (the wine maker says dark cherry and blueberry) along with hints of tree.... A somewhat herbal and slightly astringent finish accompanied by oak. The alcohol per the label was 13.9%, but the wine seemed, to me, to be almost on the verge of being hot (hand-full of fingers running down the side of the glass).

The back label says that this was a handcrafted Merlot from grapes grown in Sinskey's Los Carneros vineyards. It then states that 210 barrels were made. Their web site says that the wine is barrel aged in new French oak barrels.

Do not remember what I paid for this one, but it was probably too much.

Past several weeks have been spent drinking stuff like Bonney Doon Big House Red, Fleury Cotes du Ventoux, Fluery Cotes du Rhone Village, Rosemount Shiraz, Cline Zin and Cline Cotes d'Oakley along with some Wolf Blass Grenache and a case of Beaujolais Villages.

So........ I thought I'd try a Merlot for a change of pace. Maybe I should have followed IK's path and chosen a French merlot rather than a Californian, oh well.

Pace changed, now I must march smartly back to the world, IMHO, of better red wines.

This Merlot was drinkable, for sure, but it helped remind me that there are far, far better things in life than wines that start with M (excepting Mourvedre) or C (excepting a good CS blend or CF or Chablis).

[This message has been edited by mrdutton (edited 05-17-2001).]

- mrdutton - 05-20-2001 06:11 PM

Well, we will change our story a bit. Today we had some grilled rib-eye steaks that had been soaked in red wine for about 24 hours, along with some garden peas, garlic mashers, grilled onions and grilled carrots.

The wine we chose to drink with this wonderful combination of protein, fat, and veggies was a 1995 Robert Sinskey Vineyards Reserve Merlot. (I've got it in my wine rack and need to get it drunk sooner or later.)

The wine was set up-right for 24 hours, cork popped, decanted, no sediment noted, and allowed to breath for about two hours before serving.

This mix of 75% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 5% Cabernet Franc had notes of black cherry on the nose and palate along with hints of chocolate and some spicy herbs, combined with and finished with a large bit of oak and a very smooth and velvety tongue which lasted and then went on a bit more..... as described below.... bite of steak, sip of wine, bite of steak, sip of wine..... oh my... this is what drinking wine is all about. My goodness, almost an epiphany.

Both the surrounding fat and the wonderfully medium rare beef inside, mixed together with this merlot blend. Trust me, every bite and every sip worked together. The beef and wine seemed to melt together with each other in some kind of very near perfect harmony.

My wife even noted that she liked the wine with the beef. Would she have tasted the wine without the meat, trust me, she would have exclaimed "oh so very dry and yuck!".

Since the beef had been marinated in red wine and liquid smoke for the past 24 hours, it was basically cooked even before it hit the grill. I just used the grill to heat it up. Did some baby carrots and some onions spiced with chervil and rosemary along with the steaks; the wife whipped up some garlic mashers and some buttered peas.

Plated we had: Rib-eye steak topped with the roasted onions and baby carrots, garlic mashers and baby peas.

The drink was the 1995 Reserve Merlot from Robert Sinskey Vineyards.

I will not take back every negative comment I had about the other Sinskey Merlot. However, this one was something to behold.

Sip of wine, bite of steak, sip of wine and bite of steak. Pure match between the fat and the meat and the wine and the tannin and the fruit and the...... well just have to admit, the oak. Gee din't I say this already. Gosh, sorry to repeat myself.

Oh gosh how can I face up to the fact that a Merlot actually worked with food......!?!

In this case, I think I picked a very nice Merlot because of the added Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc.

[This message has been edited by mrdutton (edited 05-20-2001).]

- mrdutton - 05-20-2001 06:17 PM

Gee, did I get a little wordy? ....... Opps

- Bucko - 05-20-2001 07:19 PM

I have had some nice Pinot Noirs from them, but no Merlots. Sounds like a nice meal/wine combo.