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"Young Merlots Versus Young Cabs"

  by Fred McMillin

Prologue

Echelon"A facet of Merlot's increasing popularity is its tendency to make softer and less tannic wines than does Cabernet Sauvignon. [It is ready sooner], requiring less long-term cellaring than Cabernet."

...Charles L. Sullivan, Companion to California Wine

 

The Rest of the Story

So, does a young Merlot taste better than a young Cabernet Sauvignon? To get an answer, we tasted blind ten 1997 Cabs, each paired with a Merlot of the same year and the same price. When the voting was completed and the bottles unwrapped, here's what we found. The wines that won by the largest margin are listed last.

Place Winning
Margin
Winning
Varietal
Price The Wine
10th 0.6% Merlot $21 Sattui, Napa Valley
9th 5.4% Merlot $12 Rosenblum, Napa Valley
8th 9.8% Merlot $15 Jekel, Monterey
7th 18.3% Merlot $15 Shooting Star, Lake County
6th 22.3% Cab $11 Napa Ridge, Central Coast
5th 26.8% Merlot $14 Echelon (Chalone), Central Coast
4th 29.4% Merlot $10 C. Mitchell, El Dorado
3rd 32.5% Cab $13 Firestone, Santa Ynez Valley
2nd 33.1% Cab $7 Stone Creek, California
Winner 34.0% Merlot $18 Baywood Cellars, Monterey
 

Conclusion

The 1997 Merlots won seven out of ten matches. This test helps explain Merlot's explosive sales record. Young Merlots usually DO taste better.

 

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