"So you can get on with your search, baby, and I can get on with mine…"

by Katie Pizzuto on March 17, 2009

in Merlot,Wine

I have just finished one of the most memorable wines I have had in a long time and what completely shocked the shit out of me was that it was a merlot. Right now you are either rolling your eyes at me for being a merlot basher or nodding your head in empathy. I don’t hate merlot—I hate mass-made, spineless merlot, which is unfortunately what lines most of our store shelves nowadays. When Miles stood outside, declaring to Jack, “No, if anyone orders merlot, I’m leaving. I am NOT drinking any fucking merlot!” I laughed my ass off because he gave voice to the little merlot-shunning demon inside of me. But when I stood inside a local wineshop this past weekend talking to the owner, we got on the subject of earthy wines. You see, I LOVE funk. I love the earthy, mushroomy, barnyard character you find in certain red wines and I was on the hunt. When I asked what he recommended, he pointed to the Italian section and said, “That merlot right there.”

“Merlot? Are you serious?”

“Yeah, it’s from Friuli…a nice cold pocket for the grape. It’s all about the funk, I swear.”

At about 14 bones, I was willing to trust the guy, so I bought a bottle (along with 2 others, cuz self control is something I’m not readily working on). The next night, I cracked it open while making dinner and gave it a whiff. Plenty of black plum and red berries, but the funk was definitely in the house. The scent immediately brought a smile to my face. The guy knew what he was talking about! I spent the rest of the evening completely enthralled by a bottle of merlot, and believe me when I tell you, I didn’t think that sentence would ever spill from my lips. I finished the second half of the bottle last night, and I’m thinking it might have been even better the second night if that’s at all possible. Knowing what I know now, I’m running back to the shop this weekend and buying a case of this wine to keep around. OK, Katie, so WHAT THE HELL WAS THE WINE?!?!? Fantinel Celebrate Life Merlot 2007.

celebrate-life-merlotI was so taken by the wine that it took me a couple of hours to finally look at the label and read it through. Apparently, the Fantinel family donates $1 to fighting world hunger and malnutrition for every bottle of wine sold in the US. So not only was this winery generous and globally conscious, but it single-handedly restored my faith in merlot. Let me repeat—single-handedly restored my faith in merlot. I am eternally grateful to both the shop owner for knowing enough about his wines to point me in the right direction, and to the winemaker for crafting a bottle of funky goodness that reminded me of merlot’s potentials. I am also eternally grateful because it reminded me of two things that you should also remember: 1. Never hold on to your silly “varietal prejudices.” Don’t walk around like a pompous dolt, declaring your detest of cabernet or sauv. blanc or riesling, because I promise you that you will miss out on some seriously great wine at some point. I would NEVER have given that bottle of merlot a second glance and it would’ve clearly been my loss. 2. Talk to the people in the shop. I don’t care how much you think you know about wine—they’re inevitably gonna know more than you about what they stock. Trust them. If it sucks, bring it back and tell them so. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Linsey March 17, 2009

so when will you be going back for a case of it lol

btw how you doing on the new years resolution to taste a new wine every day of the year?

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2 mydailywine March 17, 2009

Restored faith. Something we all need right now. Count me in on almost any wine from Friuli.

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3 Katie Pizzuto March 17, 2009

@Linsey…The resolution is technically to try 365 new wines this year, so I might try 3 new ones one day and none the next…hoping to have 1 new one EACH day is a bit much! Doing VERY well though…I’m keeping a list.

@Amy…You are SO right. Restored faith is a wonderful feeling. I sent the winery an email and a link to this post to let them know how happy their wine made me.

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4 The Wine Commonsewer March 18, 2009

You had me at the title…..and maybe it wasn’t wasted time after all.

Nice post. If you have not tried Franciscan Merlot, please do. Ditto St Francis. These will prove Miles wrong.

And now, Sideways has spawned a whole new generation of insipid imposters that are Pinto Noir in name only. That’s how it goes, ya know.

I can’t believe how many ghastly Pinot’s I’ve endured in the last couple of years. And they ain’t cheap, neither.

BTW, I still can’t get FF to post comments. Probably me, but…….

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5 Katie Pizzuto March 18, 2009

Will try both Merlots…thanks! Agree on the “Sideways Effect”…Pinot and Champagne are, hands down, the wines I’m most passionate about, but the slew of faux pinot lovers that came out of the cracks after the movie and drove prices through the roof killed me. And as you said, MANY ghastly, overripe pinots out there that are way to powerful, way to high in alcohol and way over the top.

I noticed that I’ve had problems commenting on Slinging Juice…maybe that’s a FF thing too?!? Hmmm!

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