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This week, we're continuing our alphabetical exploration of grape varietals with the letter "M". So I'm going to highlight two different grapes: Marsanne and Merlot.
Marsanne is a white wine grape variety from the Rhône Valley, perhaps best known for its role in the celebrated whites of Hermitage. It is also found in Savoie and Switzerland, where it is known as Ermitage, and has been warmly adopted as a specialist curio in both Australia and the United States – most notably California and Washington.
Marsanne wine generally possesses good weight and structure, but often lacks any depth of perfume and flavor. This explains the long-standing Rhône Valley tradition of blending the variety with its more aromatic cousin Roussanne, and the more international pairing with Viognier.
Together Marsanne and Roussanne form the core of white wines from both Crozes-Hermitage and Saint-Joseph and the sparkling whites of Saint-Péray. Both are also key ingredients in white Côtes du Rhône wines, usually alongside Grenache Blanc and Viognier.
Merlot is a red wine grape variety with strong historic ties to Bordeaux and the southwest of France. It is associated equally with easy-drinking red wines and the great labels of Saint-Emilion and Pomerol.
The precise flavors that Merlot imparts to a wine are not easily defined. Plum and black cherry are among the most common fruit-based descriptors used, though Merlot is often used for producing wines of a particular texture, rather than a particular taste.
Smooth, rounded and "easy drinking" are common descriptions of Merlot wines. The main reason for this is that Merlot grapes are relatively large in relation to their pips and the thickness of the skins, in which tannins are found. For this reason, the variety is often used to soften wines made from more tannic varieties.
We have a choice of videos to watch including:
- https://youtu.be/_u0DyRHIqQM - Marsanne: Randall Grahm describes White Wine Grape - Ask a Winemaker (1:52)
- https://youtu.be/bjRQ-PSvjlk - Marsanne Tasting: 2018 Marsanne with Chelsea and the Shepherd - Tablas Creek (2:57)
- https://youtu.be/DMWHsuoHgzw - Merlot: Understanding the Variety - Understanding Wines (3:09)
- https://youtu.be/JJnJK8rpibQ - Merlot: Everything You Need to Know - Wine Folly (4:37)
Let us know what you’re drinking and eating, and, if possible, the region. And, as always, tell us what’s going on in your life - what's happening with you, how you're feeling about things, updates, successes, challenges - as much or as little as you’re willing to disclose. We are in this together. And - thank goodness - we have wine!
Join us at our annual holiday party! The ugly hat contest is just part of the fun!
Here's what all is going on:
- We'll be celebrating the holidays for sure, by sharing good cheer, noshing, singing karaoke (or not!), sitting by the fire outside, or relaxing in the wine room.
- This is a pot luck, so bring a holiday dish AND beverage of your choice.
- Want to participate in the ugly hat contest? It's really simple. Wear or bring one! We'll have a contest and award for the most beautiful, the most "holiday", the most unique, and craziest/funniest.
- Participating in the ornament exchange is easy. Just bring an ornament of your choice, wrapped in a gift box or bag, so we can't see it, and we'll do a little exchanging. The most unique or crazy ornaments usually provide the most entertainment.
Mostly, this is a chance to enjoy each other, to welcome new members, to celebrate the friendships we've built and, of course.... to enjoy our WINE!