Carneros Shrugged

I’ve always said: The oldest wines in any store are the Merlots. Funny how that happens… Everyone wants every red wine they drink to taste like Merlot, but nobody buys Merlot. Sure enough, wandered into Bev-Mo with a few minutes to kill, and the overlooked BDX-variety was chock-a-block with, well, overlooked vintages. This is a store I hardly EVER shop at, but is always interesting to *shop*, both for marketing trends and prices–and the occasional (READ: very rare) bargain. Found 09’s, 11’s, 13’s stagnant beside 18 and 19 cabs, along with this 06 Carneros orphan begging to be rescued.

Perfect cork, gorgeous deep brick through the glass. Incredibly spicy nose, dusty and earth-driven, layers of leathery tertiary piled high on candied black cherry Luxardo and Robitussin bitter sharpness. Musty and intoxicating to smell, meaty and thick and woodsy along crushed-velvet sweat and blood.

In the mouth, the fruit takes a slight pruney turn, but nothing anywhere near unpleasant or tired. Polishing well, the blackberry rife with acid and tannin: a full-palate experience concentrated and glowing with spirited fruit and minty briar. Structure is still going strong–and will probably out-live the fruit, as is almost always the case with well-made Napa/Sonoma versions of this variety at 15+. But it’s not a *doughnut-wine*, as any hollowness of center is several years in the distance. Bitter and black plays perfectly into the rich fruit: a testament to the clay and fog of Carneros and allowing me once again to insist: The best Merlots come from this swath of land shielding Napa from the ocean. And they don’t get any better than this.

2006 SCHUG ‘Heritage Reserve’ Merlot Carneros Sonoma 13.5

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