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Brander Merlot 2016

Merlot from Santa Ynez Valley, Santa Barbara, Central Coast, California
    14.2% ABV
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    14.2% ABV

    Winemaker Notes

    The color of ripe Catalina plums in the glass, this opens with aromas of sun-warmed wild blackberries, and violets. On the palate this wine exhibits black cherry, carob, and Ceylon cinnamon. Pair this absorbing and rewarding wine with crispy shredded beef tacos with avocado and cilantro, or a homemade pizza topped with apple slices, gorgonzola, and rosemary.

    Critical Acclaim

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    Brander

    The Brander Vineyard

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    The Brander Vineyard, Santa Ynez Valley, Santa Barbara, Central Coast, California
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    The planting of the Brander Vineyard to mainly Bordeaux varietals began in 1975. In 1977, the first harvest of Sauvignon Blanc grapes were taken to a neighboring winery where Fred Brander produced a wine so distinctive it captured Santa Barbara County's first gold medal for a wine at a major wine competition (1978 Los Angeles County Fair).Since its inception, the Brander vineyard has been highly acclaimed as a top Sauvignon Blanc producer, and for many years the only Brander wine was an estate-bottled Sauvignon Blanc. Today, the winery produces an average of 8,000 cases of wine from its 43 acres of vineyard in the Santa Ynez Valley. The focus on production is Sauvignon Blanc, with one main bottling and three distinctively different reserve bottlings of that variety. A small quantity of red wines is also produced with Merlot and our Bordeaux-blend called Bouchet being the most popular.

    Santa Ynez Valley

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    Ranging from cool and foggy in the west to warm and dry in the east, the Santa Ynez Valley is a climatically diverse growing area. The most expansive AVA within the larger Santa Barbara County region, Santa Ynez is also home to a wide variety of soil types and geographical features. The appellation is further divided into four distinct sub-AVAs—Sta. Rita Hills, Ballard Canyon, Los Olivos District and Happy Canyon—each with its own defining characteristics.

    A wide selection of grapes is planted here—more than sixty different varieties, and counting. Chardonnay and Pinot Noir dominate in the chilly west, while Zinfandel, Rhône blends, and Bordeaux blends rule the arid east. Syrah is successful at both ends of the valley, with a lean and peppery, Old-World sensibility closer to the coast and lush berry fruit further inland.

    An easy-going red variety with generous fruit and a supple texture, Merlot’s subtle tannins make it perfect for early drinking and allow it to pair with a wide range of foods. But the grape also has enough stuffing to make serious, world-renowned wines. One simply needs to look to Bordeaux to understand Merlot's status as a noble variety. On the region’s Right Bank, in St. Emilion and Pomerol, it dominates in blends with Cabernet Franc. On the Left Bank in the Medoc, it plays a supporting role to (and helps soften) Cabernet Sauvignon—in both cases resulting in some of the longest-lived and highest-quality wines in the world. They are often emulated elsewhere in Bordeaux-style blends, particularly in California’s Napa Valley, where Merlot also frequently shines on its own.

    In the Glass

    Merlot is known for its soft, silky texture and approachable flavors of ripe plum, red and black cherry and raspberry. In a cool climate, you may find earthier notes alongside dried herbs, tobacco and tar, while Merlot from warmer regions is generally more straightforward and fruit-focused.

    Perfect Pairings

    Lamb with Merlot is an ideal match—the sweetness of the meat picks up on the sweet fruit flavors of the wine to create a harmonious balance. Merlot’s gentle tannins allow for a hint of spice and its medium weight and bright acidity permit the possibilities of simple pizza or pasta with red sauce—overall, an extremely versatile food wine.

    Sommelier Secret

    Since the release of the 2004 film Sideways, Merlot's repuation has taken a big hit, and more than a decade later has yet to fully recover, though it is on its way. What many viewers didn't realize was that as much as Miles derided the variety, the prized wine of his collection—a 1961 Château Cheval Blanc—is made from a blend of Merlot with Cabernet Franc.

    WWH144793_2016 Item# 178202