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by Fred McMillin
for September 2003

Wine

 

Do Young Merlots Taste
Better Than Young Cabs?

 

Prologue

"All that marketing hype about Merlot's early-drinking attributes isn't worth the price of a bottle."
                —Jeff Morgan
               Wine Spectator

 

The Rest of the Story

Is young Merlot more pleasing to drink than young Cabernet Sauvignon, or not? To get an answer, we paired eight Merlots with eight Cabs, all only two years old. Each set was of the same price range, and was tasted blind. Here's the winner of each match. The highest rated wine is listed last. That is, the further you read, the better the bottle.

 

The Winners

Rank   Winner The Wine
8th - Cabernet $12, Beringer Founders' Estate Cab, California
7th - Cabernet $16, Tobin James Cab, Paso Robles
6th - Cabernet $14, Sagelands Vineyard Cab, Columbia Valley, Washington
5th - Merlot $17, Geyser Peak Merlot, Sonoma County
4th - Cabernet $10, R.H. Phillips Cab, Dunnigan Hills
3rd - Merlot $13, Sterling Merlot, Vintner's Collection, Central Coast
2nd - Merlot $9, Dunnewood Merlot, Mendocino County
 

And here's the best...

 
1st - Merlot $18, Chateau Souverain Merlot, Alexander Valley
 

The Answer

Cab boosters say: We won half the matches.
Young Merlots are NOT more drinkable.

Merlot boosters say: Our Merlots had higher ratings than your Cabs.
Young Merlots DO taste better.

Conclusion—buy the varietal you prefer, even if it's young.

 

Credits
Thanks to Ophie Mercado for much help, and to the 22 tasters for this article, including John Christensen and Dr. Linus Hollis.

 
 
About the Writer

Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for 30 years on three continents. For information about the wine courses he teaches every month at either San Francisco State University or San Francisco City College (Fort Mason Division), please fax him at (415) 567-4468.

 


 

 
 

This page created September 2003

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