The Dozen Vol. 25 No. 10 Wine

The Dozen – Red October

July, August, September, Merlot, November, December...


If wine and spirits lovers observed every “wine day” or “spirits month” that a PR agency has invented and placed on the mythical official calendar, then the wine world would be like a wall-to-wall frat house – a 24/7 boozarama of celebration. 

Nevertheless, it is fun to succumb on occasion, and as we are here for – have you guessed – to celebrate October as Merlot month.  And why not?  In California and Bordeaux especially, Merlot produces truly great wines and affordable bottles that provide us with great enjoyment at the dinner table.

The Dozen has you covered for the first four days – you’re on your own for the rest of the month.  (Note to Miles: We have a couple of Pinots for you.)

2020 Whitehaven Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc ($18).  A very enjoyable textbook NZ SB – fresh green flavors of lime and gooseberries with bracing acidity.

2018 Flat Top Hills Red Blend ($16). Good wine for the price, with lean, aromatic fruit, a savory touch of green and moderate weight on the palate.

2018 Prats & Symington “Prazo de Roriz” Douro Red Wine ($16). Good fruit upfront with a tangy finish and a few old-barrel notes.

2013 Las Morades de San Martin “Initio” Vinos de Madrid Garnacha ($21). Rich fruitiness, pleasantly assertive – a good example of modern, well-balanced fruit-forward wine.

2019 Oberon Napa Valley Merlot ($21). A nice everyday dinner wine – bright cherry flavors and a touch of chalky tanginess in the finish.

2018 Markham Napa Valley Merlot ($22). Cherry flavors with savory vegetal notes, good acidity, and chewy tannins.

2010 Las Morades de San Martin “Las Luces” Vinos de Madrid Garnacha ($30). Yes, that’s the correct vintage. Very rich, tightly knit dark berry flavors with well-integrated tannins and a long finish. Despite the age, it improves after decanting.

2018 L’Ecole #41 Walla Walla Valley Merlot ($36). Smooth drinking, with cherry and blackberry fruit, nice green herbal notes, a tart finish, and walnutty tannins.

2018 Louis M. Martini Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($38). Very enjoyable, juicy Cab with cherry flavors, good balance, and modest tannins.

2019 Simi Russian River Valley Reserve Pinot Noir ($45). Nicely made and varietally correct, with great berry perfume, dark cherry and cola flavors, a little rootiness, and smooth, mild tannins.

2017 Sosie “Spring Hill Vineyard” Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir ($45). A very nice mixture of tangy yet dark and rich cherry flavors, a few savory notes, and a lean and tannic finish.

2018 Sullivan “J.O. Sullivan” Founder’s Reserve Rutherford Merlot ($250), A collector’s item – very well-structured with big, dark fruit, a few savory hints, and lip-smacking tannins – it is reminiscent of a fine Pauillac Cabernet-based wine.  Decant for an hour or two before you throw a couple of rare steaks on the grill to serve with béarnaise.

Prices listed are generally SRP or from As more wineries are now shipping direct-to-consumer, check the winery website if you can’t find a bottle in your retail store.

Feature photo: Merlot vineyard

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