Wine Talk

Snooth User: Giacomo Pevere

How to restore merlot aristocracy

Posted by Giacomo Pevere, Mar 14, 2012.

That's really nice!

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Reply by dmcker, Mar 14, 2012.

Nice GunBun ad, Giacomo, thanks for posting. Wonder how many people sit and watch it all the way thru, tho. Anyway, the family brothers fit smoothly into the roles, and I also like the S.A. malbec diss at the end! ;-)

Reply by Giacomo Pevere, Mar 14, 2012.

Malbec moving to the south is absolutely funny!

Reply by spikedc, Mar 14, 2012.

Nice one Gia,

I've enjoyed a few Merlots lately, one yesterday was good and reasonably priced 

Washington, Columbia Valley - Chateau Ste. Michelle 2007

Reply by EMark, Mar 14, 2012.

I think this is hilarious.  I'm doing my part and sending it to others.

Spike, I generally prefer Washington Merlots to California examples.  However, lately I have really enjoyed some Spring Mountain District versions.

Reply by shsim, Mar 17, 2012.

haha this is great. Thanks for sharing!

Reply by JonDerry, Mar 18, 2012.

Yup, this is surprising for a wine commercial. Basically, I could show this to my wife and hold her attention.

Reply by Giacomo Pevere, Mar 18, 2012.

The question after this commercial is: Cab still rule in CA, Merlot have is part, Malbec is came back from the south america but what's happened with Petit Vedot and Cab Franc?  :) :) :)

Reply by EMark, Mar 18, 2012.


As I indicated above, I love this video.  I've watched it 7 or 8 times and chuckled every time.  What it is, though, is a commercial for Gundlach-Bundschu Merlot.  Their point is that:

  • They have been doing Merlot since, at least, 1976.
  • The proliferation of Merlot vines all over the state weakend the stock rather than strengthened it.
  • The decline that Merlot experienced was well deserved.
  • G-B's current Merlot has power, balance and concentration.

G-B, along with most California wineries, has no place for Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc and Malbec other than blending wines for Bordeaux style examples.  (OK, I can think of a couple CA wineries that offer Cabernet Franc as a stand-alone varietal bottling, and, yes Malbec has popped up here and there.) 

Yup, Cabernet still rules in California.  It will be interesting to see if any grape varietal ever challenges the king.  My bet is not in my lifetime, but I look forward to continuing the research.

Reply by GregT, Mar 18, 2012.

What happened with Petit Verdot is that people made wine out of it, tasted it, got sick, and drank something else.  I"ve done a few PV tastings of PV from around the world and still can't find any reason to bottle it on its own. Australia, the US, Spain, France, Argentina, South Africa, Brazil, Portugal - can't seem to find anyplace that can do much with that grape.

Cab Franc on the other hand, can be quite delicious.  They make a lot in Hungary that you never hear of, in France of course, but the Italians do a magnificent job - Macchiole for example.  Also in WA and CA there are some really good examples, and it's a grape that seems to be popular in New York.

Neither is quite in the category of Merlot IMO, which is one of the great grapes, although sometimes CF can give it a run for the money.

Reply by dmcker, Mar 18, 2012.

Yeah, most PV I've had makes it easy to only drink a single glass of wine with dinner--and to start dieting, at that.  But then I feel the same way about a lot of petit syrah.

Ditto your remarks regarding Cab Franc, though most I've had has been from the Loire or in blends from the right bank of Bordeaux. Haven't had enough from WA or Italy, but they're hard to find over here. CF is definitely in the same league (even if lower in the rankings) as merlot, and CS would be boring if we didn't have the others, too.

Reply by zufrieden, Mar 18, 2012.

Great video.

Merlot is one of the great grapes, and has expanded its influence in the farms of the world largely because of its approachable, easy-going nature.  But too much of a good thing is not always so good, and the bored palates of the unwashed began to fall away as interest shifted to Pinot Noir as a result of movies like Sideways and the development of quality PN fruit in OR, WA and CA (particularly in the north and around Santa Barbara).

As I said to a colleague of mine the other day: "You fail to appreciate Merlot because you have not tasted the qualitative limits of what this grape can achieve in Pomerol and select vineyards elsewhere."


Reply by redwinerob, Mar 18, 2012.

Hi Rob a wine novice here.

I always thought wine was disgusting and became a beer enthusiast trying literally hundreds of craft beers. I recently decided to train my tastes to wine for its health benefits and NOW I get it.


I'm 40 and am kicking myself for all the years of wine drinking lost!

I started off with Merlot which I like but then ran into Cabernet Sauvignon which I like a little better. I live in WA so am 30 minutes from St. Michelle and others. I find, at this point, nothing wrong with WA wines but have found CA just a LITTLE bit better with my ignorant palet.


Currently I'm drinking a CA Contado Mankas 2004 and find it very delicous. Please welcome me and accept my humble need for your wisdom and grace.


I consider you my masters and I am but your student.

Take care,



Reply by dmcker, Mar 18, 2012.

Rob, welcome to Snooth. Ask any kind of question you like. That's the best way to get the ball rolling....

Reply by shsim, Mar 19, 2012.

Welcome Rob! Washington has great underrated wines! I wish there were more of them here in California.

Reply by duncan 906, Mar 19, 2012.

Merlot is popular because it is easy to grow,tolerates a wide variety of soils,and ripens early thus reducing the chances of being caught by an early frost,Single varietal merlots are available from all over the world and most of them taste pretty good but the spiritual home of the grape is the Right Bank of the Boprdeaux region of France.Here it is blended with smaller proportions of cabernet sauvignon and/or cabernet franc to produce some absolutely beautiful wines.I have had some outstanding examples from St Emillion,Castillon,Canon-Fronsac,Premier Cotes de Bordeaux and Cotes de Blaye

Reply by JonDerry, Mar 19, 2012.

Back to the Petit Verdot point, i'm always disappointed when I find too much Petit Verdot in a blend (anything towards 10%), and can't help but think the wine has lost some concentration, or what could've been otherwise if more Cabernet or Merlot had simply been added in place.

Welcome aboard red wine rob, sounds like a nice progression you've made from the craft beers, and just be thankful you didn't wait another decade or two. Plenty of prime drinking ahead.

Reply by EMark, Mar 19, 2012.

Rob, let me add my welcome.  You are training me.  I had never heard of Contado Mankas and, so, I did a quick search.  From my experience Suisun Valley is a somewhat unusual region for for Cabernet Sauvignon grapes.  It looks like the price is reasonable.  I'm glad you tried it and particularly glad to hear that you liked it.  If I see it, I may pick it up on your recommendation.

Oh and don't take our "wisdom" too seriously.  Be careful to distiguish facts from opinions.  Opinions are like belly buttons--we all have them.  We spread our opinions liberally here on the forum--e.g., most of my first paragraph, above is opinion.  Facts are, in reality, quite rare by comparison.  The really good news, though, is that we keep our belly buttons to ourselves.


Reply by Richard Foxall, Mar 19, 2012.

Can't say I've ever bought a pure PV wine, and doubt I will.  To me, all the downside of Petite Sirah and none of the up--can be stemmy and green in the few versions I've tasted, always at some tasting room.  I think they bottle it to prove they can--no one I know is a fan.

Not true for CF, which I love.  First had great CF when Ventana put some out there.  Monterey/Arroyo Seco is generally too cool for CS, gives the "Monterey Veggies" flavor (although Gonzales can get hot enough some years) but in a perfect year, Ventana used to bottle CF.  It's known as a saviour in cool Bordo years, so fitting that in a great, warm Arroyo Seco year, it works.  They had no market, so I got a great deal (and Ventana has reasonable prices anyway).  I've always preferred it to Merlot, which just doesn't do that much for me.  Since then, I've drunk a fair number of bottles of CF from the Loire and liked them all, and recently stumbled into a richer, riper styled one from the Sierra Foothills that I like.  Less green but not a syrupy fruit bomb and virtually no heat from alcohol.  But there's not enough of it in the US bottled on its own, IMO.  (See LuchaVino's blog, though, because he found one from WA that he liked in a bigger style.)

I like this ad, and I think merlot doesn't have to be flabby.  Just last night, I had one (from Livermore) that wasn't bad.  But I'm never going to be one of those folks who seeks it out when there's a decent cab on the menu.  I suppose it could go well with many kinds of food, but it stays in the background for me.  Almost-all Cab varietals appeal to me, and blends with substantial merlot are okay (say, 3045%), but beyond that, just not enough structure, none of the kinds of secondary flavors that I really sink my teeth into.

On the other hand, this was a terrific exposition of what happened to merlot, as well as a clever ad and a good example of what folks in the business do when the vines are dormant and the other duties of the winery have slacked a bit.

Reply by zufrieden, Mar 22, 2012.

In case anyone has forgotten, this thread is about Merlot.  Just because a cult movie (e. g.) claims ethical high ground on wine grapes is no reason to assume anything in  absolute terms.  For example, I actually prefer PN to Merlot myself - as a rule - but this preference depends much on what the PN is in reference to the Merlot (or anything else for that matter).

The point is (and please don't lose the logical thread) that Merlot is a noble grape variety capable of greatness in heights comparable to any grape. We are always interested in personal taste, but the topic is Merlot.

Reply by Wykd Imp, Mar 22, 2012.

I'm a fan of the Reynolds Family Stag's Leap Merlot, as well as a few out of Washington State. As long as you treat the grape as what it is - Merlot - and plant in the proper environments, then it truly excels.

By the way, for those naysayers of pure PV, you MUST try the 2008 Decades 5 Petit Verdot made by Jean Hoefliger for Clark-Claudon. Good lord what a head rush!!! But with infinite layering and optimal dark fruit acidity and balance.

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