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Wednesday, March 01, 2006 

Merlot Sales Growth Sags - Blame 'Sideways'

Mike Dunn of the Sacramento Bee has a look at Merlot wine, which after having souring sales since the early 1990's, had sales slow down significantly last year. Dunn admits that the slowdown can be attributed in part to the character Miles dissing Merlot in last years sleeper hit movie "Sideways".

He adds though that there is more to the decline in growth than the movie:

But something else could be happening here. Consumers likely are discovering that other red wines have more flavor, especially syrah, which often can be nearly as approachable in texture as merlot.

In addition, after 15 years of drinking merlot, Americans may be ready to step up to red wines with more complexity and a more tannic spine.
He goes out and tries to find a Merlot that is still going to excite. He was on a Merlot panel at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo International Wine Competition, and didn't find much to shout about. The ones that won the highest honors from them was the Toad Hollow Vineyards 2002 Russian River Valley Richard McDowell Vineyard Reserve Merlot ($16) and the reserve champion Joseph Phelps 2001 Napa Valley Merlot ($40)

I've had the Phelps...I believe it was part of the tasting seminar I attended with them back in August. Pretty impressive to this uneducated palate.