Saturday, July 26, 2008

Cameron Hughes 2005 Napa Valley Meritage

Bought this wine on sale at Safeway for around $12, IIRC. Thought it was recommended by a local newspaper as a good value, and I've been seeking out more meritages, or blended wines, as they tend to be a lot cheaper than single varital California wines (and can be pretty tasty as well). I've been drinking it for the past three days, and while at first I liked the red fruit flavors that came through, I've increasingly noticed how heavy it is on oak and vanilla. There's also a little alcohol heat on the finish, and it started to taste a little fake by last night, three days after opening it. Not a bad wine, and I'm sure it would impress some people, but nothing too compelling about it either. If you were having a dinner party with friends, this would be the third or fourth bottle you'd serve - people would enjoy it without noticing it. I'd rate it an 86 on the Parker scale.

Meritage (sounds like heritage) is the official name California wine makers use to describe their Bordeaux-like red blends, or blends of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Merlot and Petit Verdot. Typically you'd expect to see complexity in these wines that a wine made from a single grape might not. Some small producers sell their Meritages lots of money, while others just combine grapes that didn't make it into their higher quality, more expensive single varital offerings. They're worth seeking out because, again, they can be a good value and show layers of complex flavors that might be missing from cheaper single grape

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