I know what you are thinking right now! I really do. You saw the word "Merlot" in the title of this post and you immediately recalled that now infamous line from the movie Sideways: "No, if anyone orders Merlot, I'm leaving. I am NOT drinking any @#*$ Merlot!" Come on, we all do it. Even if you haven't seen the movie. Because that's one quote that has gone beyond its film boundaries and made it into the realms of everyday life.
And it's such an unfair quote too. I mean, it was funny in the movie and all, but to diss an entire varietal of grape just because one big jerk of a movie character says to? Don't do it! Just don't do it.
Because if you did, you might miss out on Wente Vineyards Nth Degree Merlot (2009, 14.4%, CA). And that would be a near criminal shame because it's so @#*$ good. (Sorry, couldn't resist.) The wine gets its name due to the fact that the blocks of grapes used to make it (85% from Livermore Valley in the San Francisco Bay area, 10% from Napa Valley and 5% from the Arroyo Seco, Monterey area) were farmed to the "nth" degree. This involves hand harvesting and hand sorting only the best grapes. Wente calls this method "ultra farming". I call it a very, very good idea.
The nose on this deep red wine is dark plums and black cherries. It tastes of warm oak and cherry and feels very smooth in your mouth (the wine also contains 22% Cabernet Sauvignon and 3% Barbera, and the Cabernet really helps with the structure of the wine. Way to go, Cab!). The finish is long and has some dark chocolate in it. It is so full of flavor and layers that you really need to drink more than one bottle (not at the same sitting, though, okay?). The only problem with this is that the Nth degree wines are only available to Wente Wine Club members or at some very select restaurants. Of course, you can sip them at the Wente tasting room, but if you are like me, that would be a 2,500 mile drive. And right now, the Nth degree club is full. But the regular club is not. So you know what to do.
This is a very special wine, and well worth the time and effort to get some. And if anyone ever quotes that Merlot line to you when you order some of that wonderful grape, smack them on the head with the bottle (wait until it's empty though - no reason to waste good wine on an idiot).
I was sent this wine for review purposes. I am very honored that I was too - it's hard to find, it's an amazing wine and I never would have gotten the chance to sip it if it hadn't been sent to me by the wonderful Wente family. The above opinions are my own. Can you tell I liked it?