Straight Merlot isn’t exactly common in Paso Robles. For decades it has been a stronghold of first Zinfandel and then Rhone varieties, and Bordeaux varieties–while present the entire time–have only recently begun to be emphasized. I have said for many years–as has Daniel Daou–that Cabernet will ultimately be the star in Paso’s crown. And here we have East-side Templeton Gap Merlot–and a very BDX-like one at that.
Dark ruby: moving through pink on its way to a miniscule clear rim. Dark and dirty in the nose: black fruit headed towards dessert and briary vegetal running into sweaty leather, showing the early signs of tertiary. I had to go check the bottle as my first exclamation was, “How YOUNG is this???” and was shocked to find it 5 years old. But it helps explain some barely-noticeable patina in the nose. It has a coyly decadent bouquet: on one hand round and ripe; on another: sinus-clogging in its green stemminess and stark mineral.
In the mouth, it changes gears a bit. My first taste was where I went and checked the label for the age. Do NOT buy this wine if you are into huge opulent oak-ridden lush-fest Merlots. You will be sorely disappointed. Bracing and bright, the dark cherry comes in clean and tight and maintains a steady beat down-palate throughout tasting. Cinnamon and tobacco grind in for effect, but what you will fall in love with are the ridiculous tannins. So much structure. They shriek against the fruit, compelling multiple tastes to assure balance.
I can’t believe this thing is 5. Probably the most shockingly-BDX-like Paso wine I have ever tasted. I suppose one could argue the tannin will far outlive the fruit, but there’s a lot of fruit in there. It’s a bit shy, but it’s in there. This would have been interesting to taste on release. This will be interesting to taste in 10 years. Can your Merlot do that?
2015 POMAR JUNCTION VINEYARD Merlot El Pomar District Paso Robles 14.6
EDIT: On linking the website, I find the 2015 IS the current release–which is probably smart.