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Nicole Parente
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A Corkboard Experiment Wine #3: Blackstone 2003 Merlot

My apologies for the lengthy break since my last wine review. The holidays, the post-holiday crunch and getting geared up for the 2006 Boston Uncorked season took considerably more of my time than I anticipated. The good news (for me) is that I did get to drink a lot of great wine over the past few weeks. I even managed to work in a few bottles from the Corkboard Experiment list and will do my best to catch up on those reviews ASAP.

On to the first bottle, the Blackstone 2003 Merlot (California). Let me start by saying that at $12 a pop, I thought this to be a very good value and I’d probably buy it again if the situation or meal called for this type of wine. It was fairly heavily oaked but not to an unbearable level (Wine Spectator calls the oak “heavy-handed” but I didn’t find that to be the case). I identified the usual light strawberry smells I associate with Merlot, as well as something herbaceous and more earthiness than I’d expect from a Californian wine. I also caught a whiff of anise or mint in there somewhere. On the palate, the Blackstone was medium bodied (again, what I’d expect from a Merlot) with a touch of fruit and lots of acid. I think I expected more fruit and a bit less greenery. I found the wine very pleasant and it paired well with the roasted chicken my friends and I shared for dinner. I’ll add that my dinner partners all expressed enjoyment for the wine, especially at its price. I would definitely recommend this bottle to others, particularly those who enjoy Merlot.

That being said, this wine reminded me why I like, but do not love, Merlot. Don’t worry, I’m not going to go on any Miles-like rant about Merlot. It’s a very nice grape. Probably comes from a good family with a good upbringing and a quality education. However, I just tend to find entry-level, New World Merlots to be…well...boring. It’s a truly middle-of –the road grape. Medium bodied. Light, simple fruit. It doesn’t offend. It pairs well with many foods. Like I said, I like it. I just don’t love it. It doesn’t wow me the way a big, bold Cab or a spicy Zin can. That’s not meant to be negative, by the way; it’s just one man’s opinion.

More to come….

Happy 2006!



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