Winery: Lumiere Winery
Product/Varietal: 100% Merlot
AVA on Bottle: Temecula Valley
Winemaker: Andrew Kleiner
How They Describe It
Lumière Means Light in French.
Planted in 1980, the estate vineyard spends each year collecting light to produce some of the finest Bordeaux style wine grapes available in our world-class Temecula Valley.
Light is the source of life and happiness. We use our family-run winery to preserve the light so that we may share it with you. We toast to life and encourage you to “share the light.”
How I Describe It
The Lumiere 2017 White Merlot is a clear, pale salmon. Combining Old World winemaking styles with local terroir is a common practice in Temecula. The pinkish hue is almost what you’d expect from a Provence rosé. That said, there’s a bit of oranging from the number of years the wine has aged. Most rosés you’ll find on the market are aged only a year or two. This extra third year seems to have had an affect on the coloring.
The first aroma which sprang from my glass of Lumiere 2017 White Merlot was, interestingly, Mott’s® Apple Juice. Digging deeper, there is much more to the wine than our childhood go-to beverage. More subtly, chamomile and banana make an appearance. A slight grassy odor combines with hay, cinnamon, stony dust, and flat ginger ale — the latter four most likely from aging.
The Lumiere 2017 White Merlot’s real pleasure comes when sipped. Most prominent is apples and honey (anyone who has celebrated the Jewish holiday Rosh Hashanah knows this flavor well). Cherry, lychee, and raspberry round out the remaining fruit characteristics. On the midpalate, floral chamomile blends with cinnamon and ginger. The finish is fresh lemon and orange peel.
This is a pleasantly crisp off-dry wine. At only 12.3% ABV, alcohol is considered medium, but is very low for Temecula. Medium-plus acid cuts through the residual sugar, giving this White Merlot a nice medium body. Intensity is medium-plus, optimal for chilling, and the flavors linger — likely prolonged by the residual sugar — for a long finish.
Why is This Wine Special?
We’ve written about Lumiere Winery before. We wrote how, despite Bordeaux grapes being bred for cold, wet climates, Lumiere does an outstanding job cultivating Bordeaux grapes on the hot, dry Temecula Valley floor. We’ve written about how, unlike the vast majority of Temecula wineries, Lumiere ages wine to perfection before releasing, sometimes keeping wines in their cellars for a dozen or more years. But when Lumiere winemaker Andrew Kleiner recommended reviewing his 2017 White Merlot, I had no idea what to expect.
In full disclosure, Lumiere Winery donated the bottle described here. Other than providing the wine itself, there was no exchange of anything which would have influenced or unfairly biased this review.
For context, “White Merlot” isn’t actually a white wine. The Merlot grape has a very dark skin, but the flesh underneath is uniquely pale. After harvest, winemakers will might allow the Merlot to ferment with the flesh for a couple hours, but will quickly remove them. That very brief skin exposure gives the wine its signature pinkish color. So, when referring to White Merlot, we’re really talking about a rosé.
From a global perspective, you won’t hear much about rosé from Merlot grapes. If you look up rosés on Wine Folly, for instance, you’re more likely to read about Grenache, Pinot Noir, Sangiovese, or Syrah (make no mistake, those rosés are delicious). But White Merlot has the propensity to fall flat, or have fairly monotone flavors. To compensate, some winemakers turn their White Merlots into a sweet wine — essentially moderately alcoholic juice — catering to more novice wine drinkers. That’s why I’m so impressed with Lumiere’s 2017 White Merlot.
Kleiner proudly showcases his wine’s flavor profile without cloaking it in excess sugar. And while more lightly colored wines tend to not need as much aging as his 12+ year old reds, aging the White Merlot for three years has allowed the wine to develop mature, spicy attributes which you won’t find anywhere else in Temecula. The Lumiere 2017 White Merlot really is a one-of-a-kind wine which deserves to be enjoyed.
When & How I Would Drink It
First and foremost, chill this wine. The residual sugar and winemaking style allow for it without diminishing the wine’s fruit-forward style.
I would pour this wine next to seafood like salmon and seared tuna — lighter meats like veal too. Smoked cheeses would pair incredibly well. But if I were to have a glass of the Lumiere 2017 White Merlot along with lamb and tzatziki, that would be the biggest win.
Whatever you drink this wine with, with the weather continuing to warm up, you can’t go wrong with a bottle of the Lumiere 2017 White Merlot.
How to Get It
Order Online: https://lumierewinery.com/shop or call (951) 972-0585
Bottle Price: $22
Cases Produced: 217 cases
Have you tried the Lumiere 2017 White Merlot? How did the tasting notes compare with your experience? Leave a comment below.