Château Pétrus, located in France’s Bordeaux, produces some of the world’s most expensive and sought-after red wines. These lush wines, which can sell for thousands of dollars, are made almost entirely of merlot. In contrast, California merlot has had a rocky history due to a combination of factors including overproduction in the 1990s and a famous disparaging remark in the hit movie “Sideways.” It’s making a comeback, though, and is now the second best-selling single red grape varietal wine in the U.S. The following are two good, affordable examples that would go well with beef and other grilled meat.
Franciscan Estate 2014 Merlot, Napa Valley, Calif.
Bought • Costco, 4200 Rusty Road, in January for $12.99
Description • If you think all merlot is weak and bland, give this red a try. Franciscan says the wine is a “Cab-lover’s” merlot because of its body and richness. I would agree. Aged in oak for 18 months, this full-bodied red is a blend of 84 percent merlot, with small amounts of malbec, petit verdot and cabernet sauvignon. Elegant and smooth, it tastes of dark fruit and spice and ends with a long finish.
St. Francis 2014 Merlot, Sonoma Valley, Calif.
Bought • Costco, 4200 Rusty Road, in January for $14.79
Description • Mostly merlot with a touch of malbec, this lively wine received a 90-point score from Wine Enthusiast. It’s a medium-bodied red that’s more tannic and fruitier than the Franciscan. Despite its high level of alcohol, 14.8 percent compared to the Franciscan’s 13.5 percent, it’s very smooth. Aged in oak for 16 months, it tastes of black cherries and other dark fruit with some spice.