Winery/Vineyard: Wilson Creek Winery & Vineyards
Product/Varietal: 100% Merlot
AVA on Bottle: Temecula Valley
Winemaker: Guz Vizgirda
88/100 from Wine Enthusiast.
3.7 of 5 stars on Vivino (all vintages).
How They Describe It
Molly lives with Rosie and Gerry Wilson amongst the vines. Molly is often down at the winery greeting guests and posing for pictures. She is truly a potbellied pig as her belly drags on the grass as she walks. She has her own Facebook page at Molly Merlot.
Merlot is the most widely planted grape in France, for a reason… it is tasty and it pairs well with food. This Merlot is from our award-winning, south-facing vineyard upon which our wedding venue named “Merlot Mesa” sits. This was has flavors of ripe plum and black cherry with notes of baking spices and vanilla due to the barrel aging in French and American Oak. Pair with anything off the grill, especially tri tip, filet, and Osso Buco.
How I Describe It
The Wilson Creek 2017 Molly’s Merlot looks exactly as Merlots should: medium color intensity, ruby red hue. The wine is clear, indicating the liquid went through fining and/or filtering. While not a necessity for quality wines, removing any residual solids provides a nice aesthetic for the drinker.
Black plum and ripe raspberry manifest most prominently in the Wilson Creek 2017 Molly’s Merlot, with black currant underneath and an unexpected whiff of cantaloupe melon. Brioche and vanilla materialize alongside crisp green bell pepper, fresh cut grass, and a touch of lavender.
Merlot is known for a featuring a variety of red and black fruit, and the 2017 Molly’s Merlot doesn’t disappoint. Raspberry, strawberry, as well as concentrated black plum and black currant all emerge on the palate equally strongly. Freshly baked sourdough, black pepper, baker’s chocolate, and a layer of oregano and thyme contribute yeasty, woody spice. Additionally, the wine has an interesting finish of lavender water and ripe citrus.
The Wilson Creek 2017 Molly’s Merlot is dry, with medium tannins, high alcohol (14.8% ABV), and medium-plus acidity. The winemaker did a terrific job preserving Merlot’s traditional medium body while bringing out medium-plus flavor intensity and a long finish.
Why is This Wine Special?
Merlot might be the most planted grape varietal in Bordeaux, but its role in California winemaking has been somewhat checkered for the last 20-30 years. Everyone seems to have an opinion of Merlot. With it’s naturally mellow, less tannic structure compared to its Left Bank cousin, perhaps its controversial stature has something to do with the New World’s penchant for bold, robust wines. Or, perhaps it has to do with the movie Sideways.
Whatever the reason, it seems like in many ways Merlot has played second fiddle to its Cabernet cousin. It’s a shame, really, because Merlot is so incredibly versatile.
The Wilson Creek winemaking team did an outstanding job crafting Molly’s Merlot to align its Old World style with the Temecula Valley AVA’s terroir. Rather than trying to beef up the wine’s body by over-adding grape stems or seeds during fermentation, or over-oaking during the aging process, the team embraces the varietal’s elegance. And while the 14.8% alcohol adds a bit more viscosity than your typical Right Bank Bordeaux, what you notice in the glass is how much brighter and concentrated the fruit is, rather than alcoholic heat.
On a side note, if it wasn’t apparent in the How They Describe It portion, the “Molly” in Molly’s Merlot is a pot bellied pig which belongs to the Wilson family.
When & How I Would Drink It
If I were going to pair this wine with food, I’d go with something like barbecue chicken pizza or beef stroganoff. That said, you wouldn’t go wrong with leaner proteins like pork chops, lamb, sirloin, filet mignon, or even roasted or fried turkey.
The Wilson Creek 2017 Molly’s Merlot’s less obtrusive flavor profile makes it well-suited to go with food. However, it’s also a great accompaniment for activities where wine doesn’t need to play center stage. Snuggling in for some quarantine cinema? This is a wine which tastes great but won’t shock you away from the story.
How to Get It
Order: Sold Out
Bottle Price: $39.99
Cases Produced: 359 cases
Have you tried the Wilson Creek 2017 Molly’s Merlot? How did the tasting notes compare with your experience? Leave a comment below.