Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Just A Thought

18, we had 18 people turn out for a Merlot tasting two weekends ago, 18 people in 3 hours…that’s a record for The Wine Country. Never in our 14 years have we had a crappier turn out for a Saturday tasting…never ever. We advertised that we were pouring Duckhorn, the most asked about Merlot, (now I said asked about not purchased) like, ever and still 18. Unreal. I don’t think that stupid movie caused this irrational aversion to Merlot….cause you know they all taste alike them Merlots, “Try this little Chinon” I say, “What’s it like? Is it like a Merlot?”gawd I don’t even know what that means. No I think that movie was just that final nail dealie, Merlot was losing favor because of the ever trendy, “I don’t like it cuzz it’s trendy”.

Poor little Merlot quickly catapulted to the number one spot, probably by some hotshot sommelier looking to be the first to suggest something hip, cool and what all those in the know are drinking. “Cabernet Sauvignon is fine but for my money I think Merlot is much more food friendly and it’s the hottest thing in the Napa Valley….SOLD! Merlot goes from second or dare I say 4 class citizen to the most purchased wine, the most popular in restaurants, the wine everyone knew how to pronounce, (well there were a few Mer-lotters) and pronouncing that they was gonna get them some. Ah to be number one, to be the most beloved, ordered and consumed…such a lovely feeling, so powerful, so appreciated so….intoxicating, kinda hard to have that NOT go to one’s head huh? “Everyone wants me. Make more of me. Make me faster, crank me out, and stop bending me. I’m huge, my adoring fans await!” ask and ye shall receive. The market was awash in wishy-washy, thin, green tasting Merlot, um…”Yay”?

So okay, now we have tons of less good Merlot that everyone and their grannies are drinking, so what do the trend setters do next, yeah that’s right…start another fucking trend, ugh! Starts with the younger generation sommeliers and retailers, rallying against the wines their elders promoted, denouncing them as passé or, “so over” and hoisting Zinfandel and Syrah on the slightly more “sophisticated’ or “adventurous” wine consumer. All the while the occasional, just-at-a-dinner-out or “I’m taking a bottle to a friend’s house for dinner, so I’ll take something I know, something I’m comfortable with, I’ll take Merlot” crowd were blissfully sipping away while the chatter started sprinkling down from the, “Top”.

Just kind of snowballed from there. The, “looking for the next hot thing” people, tons of crappy quality, mass produced Merlot with off or thin flavors which then causes the professionals to chime in and well, you get Miles from that stupid movie leading the rest of the masses to turn their nose up at Merlot…18 people in 3 hours, it’s the new trend to hate Merlot. You hear that you young whippersnappers, all us old folk and uninformed masses are anti Merlot now so it’s time to get your hipster asses out there and make Merlot cool again, start the next anti-trend trend…by the time you’re finished it will be time for the next set of trendsetters to bail out Gruner Veltliner. Or we could all just um, I don’t know…drink what we like, not give a rat’s ass if people sneer at us over their upturned noses. Just a thought….


Michael Hughes said...

I think that I'm guilty of being this a bit. I love love love the unusual or off the beaten path stuff. However, I do think merlot can be outstanding......as long as it's made in Washington :)

God I hate emoticons. Why am I posting that?

Samantha Dugan said...

Oh dude, so do I! I drink, love and suggest, (well to certain people) Arbois, I'm into the funky stuff big time but I would never stop drinking stuff I like because it's trendy...that's what drives me nuts. And to have people turn on a whole varital like that...brutal. I think Bordeaux makes a good Merlot or two as well.

Benito said...

For some reason I often recognize the source of your pictures you post. The top one is part of a series done by Appellation America a few years ago. They invited wine bloggers to write descriptions of individual grapes, and their illustrator would do a small drawing related to the story.

My entry was for Montepulciano. Unfortunately, all of those profiles are now behind a pay wall--which is unfortunate, because dozens of people freely contributed and many of the descriptions were really amusing.


The Woo said...

Seriously. Merlot is a fantastic varietal. An uncomfortably large percentage of people who "love" Cabernet probably could not tell the difference between Merlot and Cabernet in a blind tasting. Am I being a snob? Quite possibly.

To those who turn their noses up at Merlot, tell them that just means more Petrus and Masseto for you and me. Once you tell them there is super expensive/rare/sophisticated French or Italian versions of this maligned varietal, I've found that it raises a few eyebrows. Oh well.

Samantha Dugan said...

Me thinks you are a great study and stumble across all number of cool things, either that or I steal my pics from some wicked cool spots!

The Woo,
I too have found that once you mention Bordeaux most of the nose-outta-joint folks back down...or they get all pissy because you just called them out for being a pack following jackass, my personal favorite by the way. I don't think you sounded snobby at all dude and I think you are 100% correct on that little tid-bit....the way things are so mucked with now a day, not sure I could either, ahem...on wines not from France, (wink).

Thomas Pellechia said...


It comes with the turf: you wanna sell wine based on grape variety names, you have to tout one variety over another. No way around it.

The real wonder is that there are wineries who produce a lot of different varietal wines, effectively competing with themselves for the next hot item.

Samantha Dugan said...

I agree. I just wish they would focus on what they do well and stop pandering to the, "Don't you have a Viogner" crowd. It's kind of like restaurants that have too much crap on their menu...focus and do a few things well.

Michael Hughes said...

"focus & do a few things well"

excellent. Well said Sam!