1999 Dry Creek V. Merlot - Printable Version

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- jackl - 11-21-2003

1999 Dry Creek Vineyards Merlot, Sonoma

I haven't had much experience or success with New World merlots, but this was just about the best I've had. Deeply colored, even opaque in the glass. I got cassis and maybe a little vanilla in the aroma. The taste was primarily of dark cherries with a bit of plum, followed by milk chocolate on the finish. The texture of the wine stood out as much as the actual flavor. It was softer and smoother than many wines I've had. One thing that I couldn't decipher, though, was where the fruit left off and where the oak took over. Can the suggestion of chocolate or cocoa be attributable to the oak or is this a characteristic of the merlot itself? I've this descriptor used before, so I don't think too far off in picking up on it. Any opinions?


- winoweenie - 11-21-2003

Dave Stare has made some nice merlots from his pretty property in Dry Creek. I think your descriptors are rite on. Cocoa, Chocolate, ot Bakers cocoa are elements not attributed normally to the oak. Pencil shavings, cedar, vanilla, et al are what I normally associate barrels. Keep on keeping on. WW

- Thomas - 11-22-2003

Cocoa, chocolate, et al normally indicate tannin.

- jackl - 11-22-2003

Foodie, that makes sense because there were detectable tannins on the finish--smooth but detectable. I've just always thought of tannin as a structural element, but I guess it can do double duty! I'll be on the look out for more choclately tannins! Does this appear more in New World wines than those from Europe? I ask this because I haven't really had this experience with any European wines I've tried. Could this be due to generally riper fruit in California and other warm New World regions? Thanks everybody for the input. Bye.

- Thomas - 11-22-2003

Riper fruit, perhaps; different winemaking techniques, perhaps too. The difference betweem Old World style and New World style winemaking is where the emphasis is placed--the latter relies more on the attributes of the grape; the former relies on the attributes of the place from which the grapes grow. But if grapes get as ripe in the Old World as in New World warmer places, they too develop big structure--and some of those tannins.

My slant is not to dwell so much on the difference between the "worlds." I have made a definite shift toward trying as many wines as I can fit into one life, and then deciding what I like or dislike about each on its own merits. Still, I prefer Old World style over New.

[This message has been edited by foodie (edited 11-22-2003).]

- jackl - 11-25-2003

I guess what I was getting at was that it seems like most of the New World wine regions (especially California, Australia) tend to be warmer climates and therefore give riper fruit. I am sure this a bit simplistic but seems to be generally true. Maybe this is because without such a long tradition of matching grapes with specific locales as in Europe, it is just easier to pick a warmer climate where the grapes will more often than not get ripe. Would others agree that places like California and Australia (among the other NW regions) are still trying to figure out these sorts of grape/place combos. Just let me know if I'm overanalyzing this whole subject (which I have been known to do).

- Thomas - 11-25-2003

jackl, I think the New World wine industry is, in its infancy, still attempting to figure out its place, mostly unknowingly, for, as in most things, New World people seem to think this is the place for the definitive answer, including wine. You know: we are the greatest democracy, the greatest free world, the greatest car producers, the greatest television producers, the greatest ad infinitum... But, in wine, are we?

During Classical Greece, southern Mediterranean wines ruled, and that followed with Rome, mainly because that is where grapes grew easiest and where the interest in discovery and conquest was more heated. But after the fall of Rome, and then the subsequent fall of the Barbarians, northern Europe developed a thriving commerce--wine included. It was discovered then that northern climate wines seemed more refined; much of that perception had to do with ripeness (or lack thereof). In the north, wines were considered more elegant (less forward and bombastic--a condition of less ripeness) than their southern counterparts.

In the above regard, I am a Middle Ager (passed my personal middle age not too long ago). I feel that wines from cooler northern locales are generally more elegant and nuanced than their southern locale counterparts. There are of course exceptions, but that is always the case, with any subject.

- jackl - 11-26-2003

Wow! A lot of good stuff there, foodie. Not only a lesson in wine but history to boot. I think, like you and many others here, I lean toward the cooler climate wines, although this could change, as I am still figuring out what I like. In my rather limited experience so far, I've found that wines from France and Italy especially have more focused flavors than a lot of New World wines. I am sure, like you mentioned in an earlier post, that winemaking certainly plays a role, but the climate seems to also. I think it can be just one more criteria to use in deciding what kind of wine appeals to you. Good discussion.

[This message has been edited by jackl (edited 11-26-2003).]

- wondersofwine - 01-08-2004

Catching up with this thread late. Wanted to add that the first wine in which I detected a hint of chocolate was a Beaujolais Cru, a Moulin a Vent, I believe. I have since encountered chocolate or mocha accents in some Burgundies and Bordeaux wines, so yes it can be encountered in Old World wines (whether from grape tannins--skins, etc.--or wood barrels I can't say.) I don't detect chocolate or coffee as frequently in wines as some tasters do--maybe not as sensitive in that regard.

- winoweenie - 01-08-2004

Probably because chocolate has a hard time cutiing thru the tannins is that heavily sweetened tea [img][/img](giggle, snort) WW

- wondersofwine - 01-08-2004

I still can't stomach "sweet" tea. Have to request mine unsweetened with lemon. Someone once said I see you like a little tea in your lemon juice and that's about the truth of it. Chortle.

- Innkeeper - 01-14-2004

Excellent thread guys!