Tortoise Creek Merlot
Wine Of The Month, November 2015
Tortoise Creek Merlot “The Revivalist”
The Tortoise Creek Merlot “The Revivalist” is a celebration of an Old World grape pumped up with New World enthusiasm. We source our “Little Blackbird” grapes from a beautifully maintained, sustainably farmed vineyard near Lodi, California. Our modern winemaking facility takes advantage of advanced techniques and selective barrel aging to produce a wine that is both fresh and rich, ripe and complex.
The Merlot grape has prospered and declined over the years, but perhaps nothing has more affected its market value than the blockbuster movie “Sideways” in 2004. When Miles uttered his infamous phrase, “I’m not drinking any f***ing Merlot!” a shock was sent throughout the wine industry. Merlot stocks plummeted, prices dropped, bottles sat on shelves and even grapes were left unpicked. While the Merlot farmer was worried, this couldn’t have been better news for the Merlot drinker – his favorite wine was the same or higher quality at a lower price! Over time, wine drinkers have refound Merlot wine and the beauty and depth that it brings to the palate. Our wine, “The Revivalist” pays homage to the trials and tribulations that this age old grape has recently recovered from.
The Merlot Grape
Merlot has always been part of the famous big 5 grapes of Bordeaux. This “Fortunate Son” is often viewed as taking a back seat to the more masculine Cabernet Sauvignon, but in fact sees more acres under cultivation in its homeland of France. Traditionally included in the Bordeaux blend for its medium body, earth tones and soft tannins, Merlot also has found success in its own right, in both the Old World and New. One of the finest wines in the world, Chateau Petrus, is composed of 100% Merlot. Merlot has also found favor in California, Washington state, Australia and Argentina.
When vinified on its own, Merlot often shows a medium body with medium to softer tannins. It can perform well when aged thanks to its tannic structure, but New World examples are often produced for more immediate consumption. Flavor profiles tend to range from earth tones, smoked meats, and liquorice to blackberry, chocolate, and spice. Merlot is an excellent food pairing grape, often able to work well with any roast meats, but may be overwhelming for lighter dishes such as fish or salads.
Our California Merlot
New World Merlot is known to be very fruit forward, medium bodied, and have a lower tannic profile than its European cousins. Our “The Revivalist” Merlot fits this profile well, showcasing very soft tannins and a bright, fresh fruit profile on the palate. The Lodi growing region outside of Sacramento, CA, basks the grapes in sunlight throughout the growing season, allowing full ripening only dreamed of in Bordeaux. Our vintners use extended maceration and specially designed fermentation tanks to control the amount of extraction, resulting in a deep and rich final product. Finally, 40% of our Merlot is aged in a combination of French and American oak barrels for up to a year.
Opening a bottle will bring forth blackberries, ripe cherries, herbs and smiles. Drinking the wine will produce even more smiles, and maybe some purple teeth.
The Lodi Rules for Sustainable Winegrowing is California’s first 3rd party-certified sustainable winegrowing program. It promotes practices that enhance biodiversity, soil and water health, community and employee well-being, while meeting our needs today without compromising the needs of future generations.
These region-wide standards have been endorsed by Protected Harvest a non-profit organization comprised of scientists, academics and environmentalists that certifies farmer’s use of stringent environmental growing standards. To be certified, a grower must pass an independent, 3rd party audit of their viticultural practices.
Grab a piece of meat and roast it with tomatoes and carrots. Grill a whole chicken and give it a slight char on the outside. Grab some charcuterie, gouda, camembert, and gruyere and go to town. Tomato based pasta dishes? Anytime. Burgers and pizza? Perfect pairing. Merlot is so versatile with food that it is harder to go wrong than right. As mentioned earlier, it can be a little too strong for light fish dishes or salads, but in most cases, Merlot can compliment it if you can make it.