Monday, 1 March 2010

German Merlot

As a wine lover, I've always found it hard to like Merlot. Single-variety Merlot wines, I mean. UK retailers used to, and probably still, stock a great deal of inexpensive Chilean Merlot - the cheap and cheerful (purply) red wine of choice under five quid for countless students of my era. I gradually grew tired of it and, for many years, stayed clear of the stuff. That is until I tried a Merlot from the Pfalz a few years ago at a friend's birthday party. Suitably impressed by this full-bodied, juicy specimen of a Merlot in my glass, I clocked the name of the winery: Borell-Diehl from Hainfeld. Unfortunately, I have never got round to trying more of their wines since then. Hopefully this will change at some point. In the meantime, though, a Merlot from Pfaffenweiler in Baden, situated just a couple of miles south of Freiburg:

Pfaffenweiler Weinhaus, 2005 Merlot "Sancta Clara" trocken, Baden
It may have looked like I was slagging off Markgräflerland's wine cooperatives ever so slightly in last week's "Surprising wines" piece, but there are some cooperatives that excel in what they do, and it would appear that Pfaffenweiler Weinhaus, of whom I have read a lot of good things, is one of them. In particular, they boast a particularly highly regarded Sauvignon Blanc in their collection. Incidentally, the village of Pfaffenweiler is situated in the Schneckental (or "Snail Valley"), hence the rather original, snail-related logo on the label.

The wine is a lovely ruby-red in appearance but with an interesting hint of brown. Red and black forest fruit on the nose, with roasted hints. This sensation continues on the palate, coupled with a certain greenness that gradually mellows. I say "greenness", but this is attractively so. Nothing unripe about this. Focused and balanced, the barrique notes and tannins are well integrated, the finish dry and smooth. For EUR 11.99, this is just about right on the price-value scale.

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