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Zenato Merlot 1999
Zenato is a company that possesses a strong link to the richness of its local history and culture, and continues to develop this connection today. The estate is based in a territory that surrounds Lake Garda, an area with an extraordinary microclimate that allows for an optimal growing season. The Zenato family is passionate in their dedication, vigorous research and innovation.
The company started with Sergio Zenato and his wife Carla as they began to produce quality wines from an indigenous varietal, Trebbiano di Lugana, and it has been passed down through the generations to their children. Currently, their daughter Nadia handles the marketing and promotional activity for the company, and their son Alberto oversees all aspects of production, from the growing of the vines to the time when the bottling process is complete.
Over time Zenato has explored another very important area of Italian wine production, Valpolicella, where they have dedicated endless efforts to the improvement and success of Amarone production, a wine of noble attributes and prestige. Zenato has entered into international markets and received the highest accolades from the wine industry's leading experts. Today, Zenato continues to look forward and make investments to develop projects based both in the area of Valpolicella and the area of Lugana.
Producing every style of wine and with great success, the Veneto is one of the most multi-faceted wine regions of Italy.
Veneto's appellation called Valpolicella (meaning “valley of cellars” in Italian) is a series of north to south valleys and is the source of the region’s best red wine with the same name. Valpolicella—the wine—is juicy, spicy, tart and packed full of red cherry flavors. Corvina makes up the backbone of the blend with Rondinella, Molinara, Croatina and others playing supporting roles. Amarone, a dry red, and Recioto, a sweet wine, follow the same blending patterns but are made from grapes left to dry for a few months before pressing. The drying process results in intense, full-bodied, heady and often, quite cerebral wines.
Soave, based on the indigenous Garganega grape, is the famous white here—made ultra popular in the 1970s at a time when quantity was more important than quality. Today one can find great values on whites from Soave, making it a perfect choice as an everyday sipper! But the more recent local, increased focus on low yields and high quality winemaking in the original Soave zone, now called Soave Classico, gives the real gems of the area. A fine Soave Classico will exhibit a round palate full of flavors such as ripe pear, yellow peach, melon or orange zest and have smoky and floral aromas and a sapid, fresh, mineral-driven finish.
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.