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Dry Creek Vineyard Merlot 2012
Blend: 80% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Malbec, 4% Cabernet Franc, 2% Petit Verdot
Established in 1972 by David S Stare, Dry Creek Vineyard is Dry Creek Valley’s flagship winery located in the heart of Sonoma County, California. This premier family owned winery is celebrating 46 years of winemaking and is led by the second generation. Founder David Stare’s daughter, Kim Stare Wallace, serves as President overseeing a successful family winemaking and grape growing business that includes 185 acres of sustainably farmed vineyards. Named one of the Top 100 wineries of 2015 by Wine & Spirits Magazine and a Top 10 Tasting Room by USATODAY, the winery is also 100% Certified Sustainable. Dry Creek Vineyard proudly produces delicious Dry Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon and Meritage blends as well as a portfolio of single vineyard selections.
The origins of our nautical themed labels are purely personal. We have enjoyed a long love affair with the sport of sailing and have a profound appreciation of America’s nautical heritage. Combining two passions, we were inspired to use the sailing ship theme on our wine labels. In 1982, when the original idea was unveiled, it was seen as a rather daring and risky move. More than 30 years later, the sailing ships that adorn our wine bottles are easily identifiable and recognized by consumers around the world. Since the beginning, Sonoma County artist Michael Surles has provided the beautiful paintings for our labels. Using a variety of mediums from watercolor to richly hued oils, Surles captures the spirit of the high seas.
A multifaceted and highly reputable sub-region of Sonoma, Dry Creek Valley is responsible for a wide range of wine styles—both red and white. One of the smallest AVAs in California, Dry Creek Valley has a winning combination of ideal geography and climate. Fertile, well-drained soils create concentrated varietal character while long, warm days, bookended by cool nights, allow grapes to reach full phenolic ripeness and balance. The warm and welcoming appellation is home to a number of family-owned vineyards and wineries that place a strong emphasis on sustainable farming practices.
Zinfandel reigns supreme here and still produces in a great number of very old vineyards—often 100 years old or older. These old vines create a powerful, voluptuous and sultry wine unlike those of any other region. Sauvignon Blanc, the valley’s signature white grape, also performs exceptionally well. Many other varieties grow comfortably here, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache and Syrah. Petite Sirah is often found in blends with Zinfandel.
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.