OK so big lush Merlot fans just click off now. Fans of Super-Tuscan and big, round, chocolate-y, decadent Napa versions–basically all of them–might as well stop reading. This is not your Merlot. The majority of Pomerol as well: just stop reading. Fans of Lalande and Veneto and Mendocino prolly should stick around. This is going to be the funkiest, dirtiest, peaty and barnyard bottling of this sacred grape you have ever felt. Green-briar and chubby vegetal tangle with a steely high note of cleanliness in the nose. But the funk on this one. I could picture MANY people thinking this wine *bad*. This is the 4th time I have tasted this wine and I can tell you enthusiastically it is NOT bad. Consistent all the way through, my notes are seamless in their attraction to the weedy bouquet, the bright raspberry and blueberry lurking, the way it settles down with some air into a Euro-centric spicy drop tucked away in a $25 screw-top from a winery which typically makes far more ‘classic’ BDX varieties, but have seen many outliers in my decades of fandom. This is definitely one of those.
In the mouth, the winning merely continues. That funk is still there. Unlike a lot of wines, where the funk is in the nose only, this thing brings it back on the palate. Almost-spritzy acidity walks everything back, allowing the ridiculously ripe–but un-viscous–fruit to shine. Smoky peat and rust grab minerality by the throat, directing focus back onto plump cherry and savory tropical. Light tannin, but definitely makes its presence known with slightly-raised hackles before smoothing down to the ONLY classical thing about this wine: a long beautiful cherry-and-chocolate finish. But it’s thin and beautiful, super-charged with smooth grit.
I absolutely adore this wine. Like I said, I’ve tasted it 4 times now–couple times with Fabian and Fred, couple times on my own. Now that I think about it. I’m pretty sure it is 5 times. I remember another bottle. But it is not for everybody. Give it a shot. Let me know what you think. This is not a 99 Merlot. This thing is way out there, I think you’re gonna instantly hate it or love it.
2017 THE BRANDER VINEYARD Merlot Los Olivos District Santa Ynez Valley Santa Barbara Co 13.7