Monday, March 31, 2008

Walla Walla Sideways

We were tickled pink when the movie "Sideways" came out – a perfect blend of quirky indie film and wine milieu that delighted the movie nerd and wine geek in us all. It launched that unforgettable line -- "If anyone orders Merlot, I'm leaving. I'm not drinking any !@*&! Merlot!"

So many fans of the movie (among them, more than a soupcon of kybecca customers) love this quote -- I worry people think there is some eternal truth to it, dismissing Merlot forever and worshipping all things Pinot Noir. But the writers had a field day poking fun at Miles' (Paul Giamatti's) pretentious wine habits. Miles was just a (fictional) fussy guy who loved wine, with his own peculiar likes and dislikes. He was not a master sommelier, a Robert Parker, our Rebecca Snyder.

I'm not swearing off a grape because someone did it in a movie, although I am still a little paranoid about going into the ocean when I think about Jaws. Sideways was released in 2004. A lot of really great Merlot has come out since then, along with some wonderful and some not-so-great Pinot Noir. So – rent the movie, sit back, and pour your *!!@* Merlot into a snooty long-stemmed glass –- or a styrofoam cup . . .

I think our cinematic wine hero would most happily quaff the Merlots coming out of Walla Walla. Thanks to a fairly long, even growing season, the best Washington Merlots combine the ripe, lush fruit of the New World with the structure and acidity of the Old World, resulting in complex, well-balanced wines.

Helix Merlot 2003.

An outstanding Columbia Valley Merlot. Aged in 93% American oak and 7% French, it woos with flavors of dark cherries, plum, vanilla and coffee. Try it with roast lamb.

Woodward Canyon Merlot 2005.

The gold standard in Washington Merlot. Carefully aged and released ready to enjoy or age for 6-8 years. This is a big, spicy Merlot with aromas of black cherries, hints of cola, and boldly structured flavors of dark fruit. Well-integrated oak and managed tannins show off a beautiful balance.

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