Super Sexy Merlot

Merlot, poor baby Merlot – tossed aside and what we thought…would be left for dead…after one silly line from a movie “I’m not drinking any f- Merlot!”  Well, she’s comin’ back and in a SUPER SEXY WAY!

Last Monday night, March 1st, I taught a fun class called:  The Queen of Grapes ~ Merlot @ my favorite MSP Cooking School Cooks of Crocus Hill.  With a menu that was sure to knock your sox off and a shmattering of vino that was more than DELISH, the pairings were hard to beat.

While, of course, we think of Merlot’s home land as being Bordeaux, Monday’s class journey took us around the world!  From a fresh, vibrant Merlot from Banrock Station (Australia) to the BIG, BOLD and Tannic Saint-Émilion (famous for growing Merlot in Bordeaux) the wines were so fun to taste all side by side.  Some notes on a couple went from a palate of bursting fruit, saturated dirt, funky forest floor to gorgeous crushed red velvet.  Merlot, being one of those grapes that makes itself around the globe pretty good, is hard to showcase in just 6 pours.  Knowing that every corner of the world from New Zealand, South Africa and Oregon could have been part of our drinking journey – I chose Merlots from Australia, Washington, Italy, France, Napa and Sonoma, CA.

Here are some of our favorites from class~

A Rock ‘em Sock ‘em kind of Mind Blowin’ OMG Merlot2003 Livio Felluga Merlot of Friuli, Italy.    “Founder Livio Felluga is a 5th generation winemaker credited with innovating and mastering modern winemaking in Italy. He is known for creating exceptionally lush, crisp and well-balanced wines that are recognized as the finest in their categories. Livio Felluga has been called one of the 7 stars in the last 100 years of Italian winemaking.”

This wine was paired to Chef Mike Shannon’s Mushroom, Parmesan, and Walnut Pasta.  Creamy, earthy, toasty and down right delicious – the wine was an amazing pairing savoring the mushroom, enriching the walnuts of the dish to preserving the creaminess of the pasta and its sauce.  Even though this Merlot hits a high ceiling with pricepoint approx $40, it’s almost impossible to find in the Twin Cities.  This class may have enjoyed the last few bottles of its vintage left in the Twin Cities!

The other fav of the nite…the 2005 Swanson Merlot from Oakville, CA.  Paired to a Mixed Berry Bread Pudding ~ I don’t think I couldn’t have imagined a better way to end our class.  With the lushy notes of the fresh fruit, to the stewed berry notes of the wine – the two may have just become a part of my TOP TEN PAIRINGS!  The toasted notes of the bread pudding, snuggled into baby ramekins, and the softness of its filling were mouth-watering but only second to the supple, rich components of the wine.  When the two hit – I think I saw fireworks!  Again, the Swanson, a hefty price to pay for an every day wine – but for a Friday nite date nite or a special occasion, this is well worth the buck.  Plus, they are a winery that I think deserves to be thanked for still making gorgeous California Merlot.  Thank you Swanson!

Again – if you haven’t made these PERFECT PAIRING classes with Mike and Leslee, you’re missing out!  They are so much fun and just loaded with great culinary and wine info – not to mention, are always…GOOD EATS!

Replies for “Super Sexy Merlot”

  • Nick K

    The Swanson with the Berry Bread Pudding really was phenomenal. It was the texture of the custard with the bread against the wine that really did it for me, followed by the combination of those luscious fruits. Awesome.

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