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Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Sandwich Inn to Serve Merlot This Fall

Charlie’s Weekly Wine-ings

With fall fast approaching, I have set my sites on finding nice chardonnays and merlots to serve guests at our Cape Cod Bed and Breakfast located in Sandwich, Massachusetts. Last week the wine tasting helped me find some chardonnays and figured I would have to go looking for the merlots. Instead, the merlots came to me. An impromptu “wine patio” at the Inn solved my merlot dilemma. Jan and I invited over a few wine loving friends to enjoy a touch lighted evening in our back garden. Each friend brings a bottle of wine, or two, and we share. 

Merlot has gotten a bad rap ever since the movie Sideways hit the DVD aftermarket. In this funny cult movie, the hapless lead character, Miles, played by Paul Giamatti, is a wine snob that loves pinot noir and constantly berates anyone who drinks merlot. Some friends of mine in the wine industry swear this movie alone drove up the prices on California pinot and drove down the demand for merlot. A clever irony or intended twist in the film is the fact that the prized wine Miles often boasts of owning, a bottle of 1961 Cheval Blanc, is a well know Bordeaux blend of Merlot and Cabernet Franc. 

With this arcane backdrop, let’s get back to my pursuit of the right merlot to offer guests at our Sandwich Inn this fall. I did some research on my own, and our wine patio helped me narrow my search. I did a personal tasting of a Pam Starr 2006 Adastra Merlot from Carneros Napa Valley. Pam Starr is a well-known Napa winemaker who consults to Adastra, which means “to the stars,” and also has her own label, Crocker and Starr. This great limited production merlot, only 814 cases made, is from 100% organic grapes, a growing trend with quality winemakers.

At wine patio, I got to sample a really great mature merlot, a 2003 Pine Ridge Crimson Creek Napa Valley Merlot. What a treat. This was a classic and shows how a great wine can age and hold its charm. Unfortunately, this is not a wine that is any longer available to be enjoyed by my guest, but I truly enjoyed it.

We also tasted the 2008 Leese-Fitch California Merlot from The Other Guys (TOG) group. The name Leese-Fitch celebrates a building in Sonoma Square, Sonoma, CA. TOG is run by siblings Mia & August Sebastiani who are the 4th generation of the Sebastiani familly to make wine in the town of Sonoma. A few years back, I toured the origianl restored 1895 Sebastiani winery and saw the oldest producing cabernet vines in the United States. After 100+ years, the next generation of Sebastianis is again making great, affordable wines. This Leese-Fitch Merlot, available from Cellar 55, will be served to guests at our Sandwich Bed and Breakfast this fall. 

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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