Merlot is Back! Barrel Tasting the Bolen Family Estates Merlot (Napa)

Let’s play the word association game. When I say “Napa,” what type of wine comes to mind? Cabernet Sauvignon, right? Truth is, most of the Napa Cabs you’re drinking have other wines blended in to fill out the mouthfeel, contribute to the color, and add luscious fruit flavors to the final product… and those wines typically contains a significant amount of Merlot.

That’s right. Merlot!

You’re probably familiar with the bashing undertaken by Merlot from the movie Sideways, where the main “wine snob” character exclaimed, “I am not drinking any %&$!@ Merlot!” Well, he obviously didn’t try the Bolen Family Estates Merlot from the Oak Knoll District of Napa. ‘Cause if he did, it probably would have saved Merlot from being the “last kid picked for the kickball team” for the past few years (or, so to speak).

Meet Eric Bolen from Bolen Family Estates

In this short video, Eric takes us through the fermentation and blending process he uses to craft the perfect Merlot. His clear explanation of how each “lot” contributes to different components of the wine will help you pick out the nuances (aromas, flavors, texture, etc.), while making you appreciate the care and dedication he puts into his winemaking.

More on the Bolen Family Estates Reserve Merlot

The 2006 Reserve Merlot (made from 100% Merlot grapes) is the latest release from Bolen Family Estates. And… the 2007 vintage (pictured) will be available within the next few weeks. The grapes come from the Beckstoffer Orchard Vineyard in the Oak Knoll District of Napa Valley, which has the ideal climate and conditions for a longer growing season. The Bolen Family also harvests their Merlot grapes later than others in the area, in order to deliver a "unique flavor profile of deep red fruits and berries".

Two years of oak aging to "bring out some sweet spice and layers in the wine,", combined with the three fermentation methods explained in the video above, result in a deliciously well-balanced wine with beautiful fruit flavors of both red and dark berries, and a wonderful, lengthy finish (i.e. take time to enjoy between sips).

Under the direction of renowned Napa winemaker Tom Rinaldi, the Bolen Family has an unparalleled dedication to quality, while focusing on a single variety to deliver an inspiring Merlot experience.

You can buy this wine through their web site at BolenLegacy.com. On their site, you can also find directions to the tasting room (part of Silenus Vintners) on Highway 29 in Napa, where you can experience an intimate tasting and tour with Eric Bolen.

This gorgeous photo was taken by Penelope Moore, and posted to the Bolen Family Estates Facebook page.

More Merlot Love: It’s "Merlot Monday"

On Monday, June 28, join Bolen Family Estates as they celebrate the launch of "Merlot Monday" - an effort to bring Merlot back into the spotlight and celebrate your favorite Merlot wines. In addition to tweeting with the hashtag #MerlotMonday, you’re invited to celebrate in person at the VinTank office in downtown Napa. RSVP at: twtvite.com/MerlotMonday

Hopefully now you’re able to mock the Miles character from Sideways, and proclaim I love %&$!@ Merlot!


Do you believe in dishKarma? My Ultimate Meal with Wine Pairings

Hey Everyone,

Hello Vino has participated in a few expos, attended some conferences, and presented our work to industry folks interested in mobile. We met Brady Sadler and Justin Griffin of dishKarma at the 2010 Boston Wine Expo and chatted about food, wine, and business.

Dish Karma

The dishKarma goal is to improve individual dining experiences by developing a unique recommendation engine that takes the guesswork out of not only where to eat, but more importantly what to order. You begin by creating your personal menu through the dishKarma site or mobile application. Add as many of your favorite dishes as you can remember, course by course, from restaurants around the world. Each time you experience a remarkable new dish, add it to your menu so you can share and compare it with others. Your menu will constantly evolve based on new discoveries and suggestions from the dishKarma community. Say you’re wandering the streets and want a burger. You could stop someone on the street, search Google on your cell or tap into a restaurant review site…or…try dishKarma which will suggest the best place to find that burger based on the dishes you’ve enjoyed in the past, or offer recommendations from your friends and community members.

A cool little fact about this service: GiveBackAmerica.org will donate one meal to Feeding America for every five dishes, aka one meal, that you upload to dishKarma.

The dishKarma blog offers short videos of chefs, foodies, and personalities sharing their “Ultimate Meal.” Past videos include Gary Vaynerchuk, KISS 108 radio personality and host of TV Diner, Billy Costa…and Hello Vino :)

My Ultimate Meal with Wine Pairings:

Bread, Cheese and olive oil – Countryside farmhouse, Florence, Italy
Wine Pairing: Chianti

Mushroom Risotto - Brookstone Grill, Derry, New Hampshire
Wine Paiting: Dry Merlot

Pad Tai and Sushi - Ruby Foo’s Time Square, NYC
Wine Pairing:
Semi-Dry Riesling

Porterhouse steak and creamed spinach – Gibbet Hill Grill, Groton, MA
Wine Pairing:
Pinot Noir

Table-side s’mores - Unwine’d, Vancouver, BC
Wine Pairing:
Cabernet Sauvignon

Jim from Hello Vino