As I've mentioned in the last few weeks, I'm trying to drink more Merlot. In the last few years I haven't favored it, and until my recent focus on it, I couldn't remember the last time I had drunk a full glass of it, let alone bought a bottle.
So in my quest to bring a little bit more of that varietal here to Vinography, I've returned to a wine that has a certain nostalgic value for me. You see, Markham Merlot was one of the first wines that graduated me out of the "buy a bottle at Safeway" wine shopping world and into visiting real wine stores to look for wines that I thought I would like.
I have a very specific memory of having this wine for the first time in a restaurant and deciding that I needed to track it down and get some. At that time in my life I was in the habit of carrying around a little voice recorder, and so I trotted it out in the middle of the restaurant (being as discreet as I could but not avoiding the chuckles of my friends) and said into the microphone: Markham Merlot.
So when I came across it in my wine shopping recently I decided, what the heck, let's have a little reunion.
Markham had its beginnings as a family run affair, created by its namesake Bruce Markham, who bought up land in Napa Valley starting in 1975 and throughout the 80's made small production wines of extremely high quality. The vineyard was sold to the Mercian corporation, which has since drastically increased production, and successfully built the brand into a commercial success.
How to gauge the results now are a matter of perspective. My tastes have changed and evolved since that first dinner with a bottle of this wine. What tasted divine to me then (granted, it was a different vintage) tastes somewhat prosaic now. Not bad, mind you, but lacking the things that I know now to look for in a wine. But I suppose many things are like that, returned to 10 years later. The experiences of the time never come back to us quite the same way. Even so, there is a certain pleasure in nostalgia.
A perfect dark ruby in color, this wine has a thick musty nose of candied black licorice, bacon fat, mocha, and oak. In the mouth it has primarily flavors of black cherry that taper into a finish of toasted oak. While the wine is relatively balanced, with light, nearly imperceptible tannins, I wish the fruit flavors were more expressive.
This went very well with a beef tenderloin with smoky bacon bourbon sauce.
Overall Score: 8/8.5
How much?: $16
This wine is readily available on the Internet and in most reasonably good wine stores. In the Bay Area you can find it at K&L Wines.
A wine book like no other. Photographs, essays, and wine recommendations. Learn more.
The Superb Grace of Old Vines: Drinking Janasse The Zinfandel Experience: January 31, San Francisco Vinography Unboxed: Week of January 4, 2015 Vinography Images: The Colors of a New Season Vinography Unboxed: Week of December 27th, 2014 Vinography Images: Rich Skies Losing a Legend in Serge Hochar Flirting with the Ecstatic: The Wines of Nikolaihof, Austria Vinography Unboxed: Week of December 20, 2014 A Grape By Any Other Name
Wine Will Never Smell the Same Again: Luca Turin and the Science of Scent Forlorn Hope: The Remarkable Wines of Matthew Rorick Debating Robert Parker At His Invitation Passopisciaro Winery, Etna, Sicily: Current Releases Should We Care What Winemakers Say? The Sweet Taste of Freedom: Austria's Ruster Ausbruch Wines 2009 Burgundy Vintage According to Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Charles Banks: The New Man Behind Mayacamas Wine from the Caldera: The Incredible Viticulture of Santorini Why Community Tasting Notes Sites Will Fail Chateau Rayas and the 2012 Vintage of Chateauneuf-du-Pape A Life Indomitable: The Wines of Casal Santa Maria, Portugal Bay Area Bordeaux: Tasting Santa Cruz Mountain Cabernets Forgotten Jewels: Reviving Chile's Old Vine Carignane The First-Timer's Guide to Les Trois Glorieuses of Hospices de Beaune