Up until about two or three years ago, my taste in wine was quite narrowly focused, to primarily the white zinfandel category, with an occasional foray into blush or chablis. Like the white zinfandel, the white merlot is actually a red wine, despite the confusing name. My taste was forever changed after a trip to Napa Valley California, when I was able to explore other varieties in the many tasting rooms in the area, where I discovered the delights of merlot, shirazz, and pinot noir.
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Unfortunately, the merlots received a bit of bad publicity in the recent Academy Award nominated film, Sideways, when Paul Giamatti's character expressed his distaste for merlot, lumping them all into the same category. After sampling a few different varieties, my favorite has become Sutter Home White Merlot, an affordable, versatile, and tasty red wine, with a little more flavor than the blush, although it lacks the richer, silkier, texture of the slightly more expensive Beringer, merlot. I have also tried the Gallo white merlot, but found the taste to be a bit too generic.
Sutter Home is a family owned Napa Valley winery, that has been around since the 1890's and produces a variety of wines for the budget conscious consumer. The white merlot features a medium deep red color, with a slightly fruity cherry/raspberry aroma. The taste is somewhat less acidic than the zinfandel, with an initially sweet flavor, and slightly tart finish. It is made from the white merlot grape that originated in the Languedoc region of France, along the Mediterranean Sea. At 11.5% alcohol per volume, it has a light texture, and is less dry than some other varieties of merlot.
One of my favorite qualities of Sutter Home White Merlot is it's food compatibility. It is a nice complement to holiday meals such as traditional turkey and dressing or ham, or every day fare including chicken, steak, seafood, and, of course, all types of Italian dishes. It also serves as nice aperitif, dessert wine, or after dinner drink.
At around $5.00-$6.00 per 750 ml bottle, this wine is an excellent value for the price. Although I'm far from a wine connoisseur, I have tasted a good many wines in the last few years, from my local wine store and in various tasting rooms, and Sutter Home White Merlot, in my opinion, compares very well to other wines of it's category and price range.
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Winery Name: Sutter Home
Designation: white merlot
State or Region: Napa Valley
County or Appellation: France
Wine Rating Scale: A solid performer