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Thursday, September 9, 2010

Sandwich Bed and Breakfast Serves Marilyn Merlot

 Charlie’s Weekly Wine-ings

My never ending search for great wine to serve to guest at our Cape Cod Bed and Breakfast in Sandwich, MA has taken me fom Cape Cod to the wine country of California and Santa Barbara, Napa, and Sonoma. My last California trip a few years ago was over 13,000 miles and took almost three months. My current search for Merlot took me only eighteen miles to Hyannis, MA and ended in the Inn’s wine cellar here in Sandwich.

In Hyannis I found a great buy on Marilyn Merlot. Yes, that is correct, Marilyn Merlot one of the Marilyn Wines made by Nova Wines, Inc in St. Helena, CA. In 1981, a few friends made some homemade Merlot and came up with the idea for a fine Merlot with pictures of Marilyn Monroe on the label. The first Marilyn Merlot was release to the public in 1985. They now also offer a Marilyn Cabernet and the Norma Jeane (a young Monroe and a young Merlot) plus other special wines featuring unique pictures of the late movie star.
1985 Marilyn Merlot
"Like the star it's named after,
Marilyn Merlot is a full-bodied
vintage from California,
fruity and luscious."

- Life Magazine, March 1988.
In 1987, I was frequenting Atlas Liquors in Medford, MA where I saw my first Marilyn Merlot, the 1985 vintage. The seductive picture of the buxom star on the label and $5-6 price caught my eye. I bought a case with the intent of giving a bottle to friends as a novelty Christmas gift. For a number of years after that first 1985 vintage, I bought a case each year when the next vintage was released on June 1, the anniversary of Marilyn Monroe’s birthday. A bottle of the latest Marilyn Merlot wine became a standard Christmas and/or birthday gift to friends. I also drank a few myself to assure the quality was acceptable. I always say never give a wine that you personally have not tried and enjoyed. The wine was surprisingly good and was consistently rated highly by the wine trade and quickly became a desirable collectable wine.

Unfortunately, I did not save one of each of the first vintages. I just pulled this form the Marilyn Wines website:

“The Marilyn Merlot Vertical collection includes 12 bottles, one each of the first twelve vintages of Marilyn Merlot, 1985-1996. A different portrait of Marilyn graces each vintage. We have fewer than 50 sets, including the ones we are saving for our grandchildren.
$10,000.00 for the twelve bottle set - 750 ml./each”

That asking price of over $800/bottle is a long way from the $5-6 price I paid in 1987.  The average release price for the 2008 has now pushed up to over $30.00 per bottle, but that still looks like a good “investment”.

Fortunately, I did have decent cellar space in the Cape Cod home we purchased in 1994 and I did start to save a bottle or two each year after that. I now have a well-preserved Marilyn Merlot vertical form 1992 to 2007, with the 2008 to soon be added. I did note with satisfaction that the Marilyn Wines website also offers a more recent vertical as follows: 

“The Second Marilyn Merlot Vertical collection includes 12 bottles, one each of the most recent twelve vintages of Marilyn Merlot, 1997-2008.
A different portrait of Marilyn graces each vintage.
$1000.00 for the twelve-bottle set - 750 ml./each”

My original intent was not to collect for investment purposes, but in this case my six plus cases of Marilyn Merlot does include a couple these recent verticals. So in hindsight, each year I tasted a nice Merlot, shared a gift with friends and may have still made one of my smarter investments. Next week, I’ll be down in the cellar sorting my inventory, separating out the investment bottles and seeing what extras I have to be drunk soon. So the next time you stay with me at the 1750 Inn at Sandwich Center, ask to see my Marilyn Merlot vertical and see if I have an extra that is ready to be drunk.      

Happy wine-ing

Charlie Preus, the Innkeeper’s Assistant and Wine Steward at the 1750 Inn at Sandwich Center, Sandwich, Cape Cod, Massachusetts

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