Francis Ford Coppola Diamond Collection Merlot 2008
2008 was a challenging vintage that delivered a very small crop as a result of spring frost that devastated many of the vines. In fact, some vineyards lost 50% of their fruit. The upside to having fewer grape clusters is the aromatics become more profound and flavors more concentrated and complex. Rich, fruity and elegantly textured this wine delivers soft, velvety tannins, and a touch of oak from barrel aging. Diamond Collection Merlot pairs beautifully with herb-crusted lamb chops, marinated flat iron steak, and creamy bleu cheeses.
Francis Ford Coppola Winery, re-opened in July 2010, is the latest venture from Francis Ford Coppola, whose passion for wine, food and adventure is nowhere more evident than in this new production – a winery resort located in the heart of Alexander Valley, California. Among the many attractions at the property, Francis Ford Coppola Winery features a wine tasting bar, two restaurants, swimming pools, a movie gallery, a performing arts pavilion and a park area with game tables and bocce courts.
Francis puts it best, saying the winery is meant to be "a wine wonderland, a park of pleasure where people of all ages can enjoy all the best things in life – food, wine, music, dancing, games, swimming and performances of all types. A place to celebrate the love of life."
Today the fourth most widely planted red variety in the state, Merlot has much to offer. While it bears similarities to Cabernet Sauvignon (its half-sibling), it tends to be lower in both acidity and tannins, giving Merlot wines a mouthfeel that is often perceived as soft, round and plush. These qualities make it an ideal blending partner for Cabernet, the two complementing each other throughout.
Merlot arrived relatively late to the California wine scene. It wasn’t until the 1970’s when producers like Louis Martini, Sterling and Matanzas Creek—influenced by European Merlot blends—began crafting single varietal versions. These trend-setting bottles opened the eyes of others in the California wine scene and spurred increased plantings. From there, the variety’s lush drinkability led to a surge in popularity, then overplanting (some of it on unsuitable sites) and finally a backlash that was turbo-charged by the infamous 2004 film, Sideways. What most 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.
Fine examples of California Merlot—either as a single varietal wine or as part of a blend—can be found from Napa Valley, Sonoma County, the Central Coast and most regions around the state. Merlot wines offer a ripe, sensual mouthful of plummy fruit, suggestions of mint, herbs and vanilla, all carried along by an approachable structure and often, a great potential for improving with age.