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Chateau Laulerie Bergerac Rouge 2015
Great match with roasted poultry, barbecues, summer lunches, and a wide variety of cheeses.
The Dubard family settled down as winemakers in the Bergerac region in the late ’70s. Their vines are situated on calcareous-clayish hillsides overlooking the right bank of the river Dordogne. With excellent South South-West exposure and a trellising system adapted to the spacing between rows, the grapes achieve balanced ripeness each year. Integrated farming techniques, including grass between vines, is environmentally responsible and helps to maintain the character of the terroir.
Offering the perfect balance of quality and value, Southwest, France is a recognized appellation that encompasses all wine regions in France’s southwestern corner (except for Bordeaux and Cognac, which merit their very own). Two of the more famous subregions here are Cahors, known for its Malbec, and Madiran, home of the robust Tannat grape. Bordeaux Blends are also popular red wines of the Southwest; Petit Manseng is the regions’s star autochthonous white variety.
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.
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 with Cabernet Franc.