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The Wine Life: 2017 Barnard Griffin

The Wine Life: 2017 Barnard Griffin

Red wine pouring into wine glass. Pinot noir. Isolated.

Grapes: Merlot

Location: Columbia Valley, Washington

Owners: Rob Griffin and Deborah Barnard

Winemaker: Rob Griffin

Approximate Retail Price: $18



Color: Bright reflection and translucent with very dark garnet hues

Aroma: Luxardo cherries, currants, dark cocoa and cedar

Taste: Tannic, with ripe fruit mixed with smoked meat, and mouthwatering acidity

For an exceedingly long time, merlot seemingly ranked as the most popular wine among non-aficionados who still enjoyed drinking wine. Its popularity led many producers and vineyard owners to replant vines or increase their production of merlot. In turn, mass production and inattention to quality caused many oenophiles’ opinions of it to plunge – and also led to its mockery in the 2004 film Sideways.

In truth, merlot numbers among the most delicious, malleable and potentially complex red varietals available. Still the dominant red varietal in Bordeaux, France, merlot, when farmed well and vinified with care, can produce some of the most graceful wines worldwide. Depending on its production, it can be soft and delicate or bold and demanding.

In Washington State – where wine-growing areas can be warmer and, during growing season, enjoy up to two more sunlight hours daily than Oregon and California – grapes can be darker, riper and fruitier.

Such a wine can sometimes be called “cab-lovers’ merlot” because of its greater boldness and fuller body.

Barnard Griffin, one of the earliest established wineries in Columbia Valley, makes such a merlot. By no means its signature wine – the winery makes more than 14 different wines – Barnard Griffin’s merlot still merits mention. It makes a perfect gateway for a red wine drinker’s foray back into the vast, wonderful world of this varietal.

Food Pairings: The 2017 Barnard Griffin merlot pairs well with hard cheeses, lamb, venison, Bolognese, shepherd’s pie and mushrooms.

Certified Sommelier Stanley Browne owns Robust Wine Bar in Webster Groves.

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Stanley Browne is a Certified Sommelier through the Court of Master Sommeliers, a Certified Specialist of Wine by the Society of Wine Educators, and the owner of Robust Wine Bar in Webster Groves.

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