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Chateau Canon 2005
Tasted at the Château Canon vertical, the 2005 Canon is evolving into a quite gorgeous Saint Emilion. One can still discern those brown spices infiltrating the ripe red and black fruit. There is fine mineralité here, great focus, perhaps just a hint of dried blood that develops with time. The palate is medium-bodied with supple, ripe tannin. It is a very complex Saint Emilion with immense purity and style, a wine that you have to keep coming back to in order to understand. It's at that pivotal stage between primary and secondary notes, the red and black fruit being overtaken by cedar, morels and a touch of game. It gently lifts and fans out to a quite captivating finish. Dare I say that the 2005 Canon is the pick of the three over 2009 and 2010? There...I've said it...it is a quite brilliant wine. Tasted October 2015.
Aromas of fresh cep mushrooms, berries, spices, roses, and sous bois, give way to hints of milk chocolate and vanilla. Full and rich, with beautifully balanced tannins and a long finish. Loads going on in this wine, yet it remains subtle and beautiful. This needs time. Pull the cork after 2015.
Shows a lightly roasted edge at first, with raspberry and boysenberry confiture notes laced with melted licorice, singed alder and firm graphite details. Reveals a fine chalky hint, but this has more bass than treble overall. Still rather tight.--Non-blind Canon vertical (December 2016). Best from 2020 through 2030.
Freshness and richness combine in this wine. There’s a eucalyptus freshness that goes with the intense acidity. But alongside this is the dark, dense blackberry fruit that layers with the hints of wood. Keep this for six years before tasting, and then for many more.
One of the world's most highly regarded regions for wine production and tourism, the Napa Valley is the AVA that brought worldwide recognition to California winemaking. The area was settled by a few choice wine families in the 1960's who bet that the wines of the area would grow and flourish. They were right. The Napa wine industry really took off in the 1980's, when vineyard lands were scooped up and vines were planted throughout the county. A number of wineries emerged, from large conglomerates to small boutiques to cult classics. Cabernet Sauvignon is definitely the grape of choice here, with many winemakers also focusing on Bordeaux blends. Whites are usually Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.
Within the Napa Valley lie many smaller sub-AVAs that lend even more character specifics to the wines. Furthest south is Carneros, followed by Yountville, Oakville & Rutherford. Above those two are St.-Helena and the valley's newest AVA, Calistoga. These areas are situated on the valley floor and are known for creating rich, smooth Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Chardonnay. There are a few mountain regions as well, nestled on the slopes overlooking the valley AVAs. Those include Howell Mountain, Stags Leap District, and Mt. Veeder. Wines from the mountain regions are often more structured and firm, benefiting from more time in the bottle to evolve and soften.
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. One simply needs to look to Bordeaux to understand Merlot's status as a noble variety. On the region’s Right Bank, it dominates in blends with Cabernet Franc, and on the Left Bank, 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.
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.
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 and Cabernet Franc.