Tasting Notes: Trefethen Merlot

Spoiler alert: This has recently become one of our favorite wines. It may seem counter intuitive to go ahead and tell you the conclusion before we even begin, but Kevin and I poured this wine earlier this week and we both discussed how much we liked it. It is a bottle we've had before, so after a long day, we treated ourselves to a nice wine with dinner. Instead of my typical incessant note taking and researching, I actually sat back and just enjoyed this one!

Trefethen 2012 Merlot

The Facts

Kevin and I were supposed to visit Trefethen on our trip to Napa back in September 2014, but unfortunately, it was the only winery we intended to visit that hadn't reopened after Napa's earthquake as they had structural damage to their building. It will definitely be on our list for our next trip! Although I have not heard the history first hand, their story is the start of a great family tradition. Gene and Catherine Trefethen moved to Napa Valley after Gene's retirement in the late 1960s, where they purchased over 600 acres. At this time, Napa was still recovering from Prohibition so most vineyards were in disarray.  The Trefethens wanted to sell their grape crop, but their son, John, felt differently. He at first attempted to make wine in his parents' basement using trashcans as fermentation tanks, which didn't pan out. However, a few years later in 1973, John and his wife, Janet, made Trefethen's first batch of commercial wine. Now the winery is run by John, Janet, and their two children, with the motto being "One Family, One Estate, One Passion."

Their passion definitely shows through in this wine. In my opinion, this wine is everything a Merlot should (or what I want it to) be... juicy dark fruit like blackberries and plum, a hint of mocha and spice, full-bodied and velvety. It is so dark in the glass, but doesn't drink too heavy. If tannins aren't your friend, I think this could be a good wine for you. If you love tannins, I implore you to try it anyway because I think it's damn delicious. Kevin agrees with me. We paired this with a homemade lasagna, simple arugula side salad, and garlic knots, and it was a homerun. Actually, it was a grand slam.

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Tasting Notes: Queen of Hearts Merlot

This wine has been on the rack for a while... it was originally purchased way back in February. As you may guess from the kitschy name, I came across a tasting of this brand around Valentine's Day while doing some grocery shopping. For a reason unknown to me, I tend to shy away from buying Merlot, so I was happy to give it a go!

The Facts

  • Producer: Was Queen of Hearts Wines but is now owned by Lucas & Lewellen
  • Region: Santa Barbara County, CA
  • Vintage: 2011
  • Variety: Merlot
  • Where I purchased: Grocery store - Fresh Market
  • Price: $12.99
  • Eyes: This wine was a medium red color. After a brief foray into white and rosé wines, I am back to the color I love most! It was relatively transparent and was not super viscous. As a note, viscosity can be an indicator for acid levels in the wine, so I'd have qualified this as a "medium acid" wine based on how it looked. 
     
  • Nose: This wine was very pleasant to smell. I tend to be biased toward the aromas of fruit forward reds, but hey, I like what I like! The wine smelled of dark berries and plum. There was a hint of something sweet smelling, whether that be vanilla or something jammy. Regardless, it smelled good.
     
  • Taste: This wine definitely had a strong fruit flavor, but a mix of red and black. I picked up on some blackberry and some cherry which was not unexpected based on the aromas. There was definitely more of a jammy taste to the wine once I had some, but there was still a good bite from the tannin. Sometimes I think jammy can be a turnoff, but it worked in this case. 
     
  • Thoughts: I was pleasantly surprised by this wine! I remember having the same feelings while in Fresh Market. I (probably unfairly) had low expectations of the wine based on the name and price point, but it actually came out as an "every day" category winner for me. I thought there was a good balance between fruit and tannin and was just really pleasant to drink. Fair warning: I tried this label's Pinot Noir, and I was NOT a fan of that. I'd buy the Merlot again, but in my opinion, shy away from the Pinot.

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