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2000 Neyers Merlot, Napa

Maybe no one has noticed, but I'll come clean anyway. I don't review a lot of Merlot here. And while I want to make it perfectly clear that I'm not a Merlot hater -- no, no, quite the contrary -- I just haven't been into it much lately. I used to drink a lot of it, and a couple of my favorite wines ever have been Merlot (like the 1994 Robert Keenan Napa Merlot) but lately I guess you could say I've been taking a bit of a break. We've been giving each other some space and time, even though we haven't had a falling out.

It's been enough time though, so I think I'm going to review a few more here in the next months than I usually do, starting with this one from Neyers.

If Neyers Vinyards was a racehorse, I would have doubled down in 1992 when they first entered the scene. They've got the pedigree of a champion. Founder Bruce Neyers has worked for years with the import god Kermit Lynch, His wife Barbara worked with Alice Waters at Chez Panisse for 20 years, winemaker Ehran Jordan has been knocking the socks off of critics around the world for years with his work at Turley Cellars, and their ranch in Conn Valley as well as the new property they purchased in 1999 in Rutherford are in some of the best soil Napa has to offer.

Their small operation works primarily with organic farming methods and they produce several Chardonnay's, Zinfandels, and Syrahs in addition to this Merlot.

Here's what Jordan has to say about it:

"The first truly great wine I tasted was a Pomerol, and I've loved the wines from this lovely 'Right Bank' village ever since. With their high percentage of Merlot and Cabernet Franc (the legendary Ch. Petrus is 92% Merlot), Pomerols tend to be more subtle than wines made from Cabernet Sauvignon -- less grapey, more earthy or mineral. They are frequently softer wines, not always immediately impressive; they require some patience to appreciate. Today I treasure the small collection of them I've built up over the years. My fondness for Pomerol led to our decision in 1984 to plant our Conn Valley property to Merlot and Cabernet Franc. Although our newer vineyards are planted to Cabernet Sauvignon, my heart has always been in the original 15 acres planted to these 'Right Bank' varieties. Over time, we've improved the farming practices, modified the blend, and advanced our winemaking."

Tasting Notes:
Perfectly ruby colored in the glass this wine has a heady, strong nose filled with cherry, sweet oak, ripe plums, and a hint of damp earth. In the mouth, it's silky, super smooth texture carries flavors of plum and black cherry over a bed of light tannins, through to a good finish.

Food Pairing
This is a lovely wine for fowl of all sorts, especially rich dark meat with lots of flavor. Why not pair this with a classic coq au vin?

Overall Score: 8.5

How Much?: $20

I got mine through a wine club that I belong to, a couple of years ago, and I hung onto it for a while, but I just checked online and it looks like Premiere Cru in Emeryville has some of the 2000 on hand. You can, of course, also get the 2001 or the 2002 Merlot now as well.

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The Oxford Companion to Wine by Jancis Robinson Wine Grapes The World Atlas of Wine by Hugh Johnson to cork or not to cork by George Taber reading between the vines by Terry Theise adventures on the wine route by Kermit Lynch Love By the Glass by Dorothy Gaiter & John Brecher Noble Rot by William Echikson The Science of Wine by Jamie Goode The Judgement of Paris by George Taber The Wine Bible by Karen MacNeil The Botanist and the Vintner by Christy Campbell The Emperor of Wine by Elin McCoy The Taste of Wine by Emile Peynaud