Wine: Markham Vineyards Merlot.
Region: Napa Valley, Calif.
In the glass: Markham Merlot is a dense ruby-red color with a semi-opaque core going out into a fine crimson rim definition with high viscosity.
On the nose: There is immediate full throttle black fruit emanating from the glass, indicating serious concentration here. It continues with ripe cranberry juice, crushed blackberries, blueberry and cherry preserve, as well as hints of vanilla and creme brulee with some oak references.
On the palate: There is a full frontal attack of crushed black berry fruits, concentrated yet elegant Bing cherry, blackberry sorbet, soft balanced tannins and a really lovely mouth-feel. The midpalate is solid, showing good backbone, and the lingering finish is a testament to skilled winemaking using top quality fruit, with just a touch of black licorice and all-spice remaining on the palate after 30-plus seconds.
Odds and ends: Back in the day, this is the sort of wine that would sell for as much as $40. It is, after all, Markham Vineyards, which is one of the storied names in Napa Valley with prime viticultural land. Then came the recession, and consumers were not happy to pay that kind of price for a domestic merlot, which in turn forced the slashing of prices. So here we are, and lo and behold if it isn’t Markham Merlot at less than $10. Thank you very much; it was about time to get back a little. This is stellar merlot from a great vintage, so there’s nothing to fret about. Get a few bottles and open them for dinner this spring. The wine can go with a variety of food, but perhaps best with pasta of some meaty sort. Drink it now through 2015 easily.
Gil Lempert-Schwarz’s wine column appears Wednesdays. Write him at P.O. Box 50749, Henderson, NV 89016-0749, or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.