Saturday, July 21, 2007

Wine Corner Review #2: Yellow Tail Merlot

The yellow-footed rock wallaby is a sweet little Australian creature that just happens to be featured on the label of every bottle of Yellow Tail wine. (No, it's not a kangaroo: if you study the label, you can see that the legs are much longer in proportion to the rest of the body than those of its larger cousin.) Yellow Tail wines are harvested and blended by an old transplanted Italian winemaking family, and to my mind, it is the Merlot and not the better known Shiraz that is the star of their reds. Late on a recent hectic Friday, my lovely wife the Rock Star and I opened a bottle, let it breath a bit, and settled in to sample this gem.

The robe (color) is an impossibly rich purple, reminiscent of black cherries. As the Rock Star and I raised our glasses and sniffed, we noticed we couldn't make out much of a nose (aroma). To our horror, we discovered that we had grabbed white wine glasses instead of red. Who cares, do you ask? Well, as it turns out, a red wine glass is much fatter at the bottom, the better to inhale and sample the delicate aroma of this Merlot. After switching glasses, we sniffed again. Sure enough, we discovered the distinct odor of minerals. Minerals? Yes, and that's a good thing. You see, Merlot was first developed in the sainted Bordeaux region of France, and possibly the best vin (district) to grow Merlot is called Graves, a word with the same root as our English noun "gravel". Thus, the mineral smell is what all Merlots worldwide strive for, so that odor was a sign of good things to come. Then, we tasted. Right away, we noticed the fruit-forward characteristics of Yellow Tail Merlot, particularly blackberries and currants. (You don't see the term "currant" anymore: in at least one source, I've read that so many people had no idea what a currant was, so the plainer designation "berry-flavored" is usually given instead. In other words, currant is no longer current!) The slightest touch of white pepper rounds out the finish.

Yellow Tail Merlot can be quaffed unacommpanied; however, it also pairs very well with lighter barbecued meats or even Mexican food. Enjoy responsibly, as always, and remember:


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