Merlot Revisited; the Answers

Here are the answers to last week’s quiz:

1) The Merlot grape can best be described as:
a) Early ripening with thick skin
b) Early ripening with thin skin
c) Late ripening with thick skin
d) Late ripening with thin skin

The answer is b) Early ripening with thin skins
The early ripening makes them an ideal partner with the late ripening Cabernet Sauvignon. It allows the grape growers to hedge their bets. Bad weather in the spring? No problem, they still have their Cab. Bad weather in the Fall? No problem, they still have their Merlot. The thin skins give Merlot softer tannins than Cabernet Sauvignon. Both grapes have a similar flavor profile.

2) The Merlot grape has a flavor profile similar to that of:
a) Pinot Noir
b) Zinfandel
c) Cabernet Sauvignon
d) Sangiovese

The answer is c) Cabernet Sauvignon

3) Sandy soils:
a) Retain water and are acidic
b) Retain water and are alkaline
c) Do not retain water and are acidic
d) Do not retain water and are alkaline

The answer is c) Do not retain water and are acidic. The reason that well-draining soils are acidic is that as the water drains out, the calcium also leaches out making room for Hydrogen cations, creating a more acidic soil. Acidic soils also have more micronutrients such as zinc, iron, manganese and boron.

4) The region known for its ‘crasse de fer’ soil is:
a) St. Émilion
b) Fronsac
c) Pomerol
d) Listrac

The answer is c) Pomerol

5) Two of the best regions in the US for Merlot are:
a) Sonoma and Virginia
b) Napa and Washington
c) Long Island and Washington
d) Central Coast and Oregon

The answer is b) Napa and Washington Washington state is known for its sandy, well-draining, iron-rich soils.

6) Two other major players in the production of Merlot are:
a) Spain and Italy
b) Canada and Switzerland
c) Australia and Argentina
d) Italy and Chilé

The answer is d) Italy and Chile. Italy grows more Merlot than any other region other than France. Chile, like Washington state, also has sandy, well-draining soils.

Bonus Question #1 What is the connection between water retention and pH balance of the soil?

The answer is if water is retained in the soil, than calcium will not leach out, and the soil will be more alkaline. The soil will also be cooler and better for acidity in the grape.

Bouns Question #2 What does ‘crasse de fer’ mean?

The answer is ‘crasse de fer’ means iron-rich soil such as is found in Pomerol. Pomerol’s clay has oxidized iron in it. ‘Fer’ translates to ‘iron.’ ‘Crasse’ translates to ‘dross’ which is the scum formed on metals from oxidation. As in most cases, it sounds much better in French.

Extra Credit When was the last time you had a really good Merlot? What was it? Describe it.
Answer; thank you for the recommendations! And thank you for playing. This one goes to Ernest of Whine and Cheers for Wine

Merlot Revisited

In preparation for an upcoming tasting of Merlot, I have done quite a bit of research on the grape, its best soils, and its best regions. I thought I would share with you what I have learned in the form of a quiz. You are welcome!

1) The Merlot grape can best be described as:
a) Early ripening with thick skin
b) Early ripening with thin skin
c) Late ripening with thick skin
d) Late ripening with thin skin

2) The Merlot grape has a flavor profile similar to that of:
a) Pinot Noir
b) Zinfandel
c) Cabernet Sauvignon
d) Sangiovese

3) Sandy soils:
a) Retain water and are acidic
b) Retain water and are alkaline
c) Do not retain water and are acidic
d) Do not retain water and are alkaline

4) The region known for its ‘crasse de fer’ soil is:
a) St. Émilion
b) Fronsac
c) Pomerol
d) Listrac

5) Two of the best regions in the US for Merlot are:
a) Sonoma and Virginia
b) Napa and Washington
c) Long Island and Washington
d) Central Coast and Oregon

6) Two other major players in the production of Merlot are:
a) Spain and Italy
b) Canada and Switzerland
c) Australia and Argentina
d) Italy and Chilé

Bonus Question #1 What is the connection between water retention and pH balance of the soil?
Bouns Question #2 What does ‘crasse de fer’ mean?
Extra Credit When was the last time you had a really good Merlot? What was it? Describe it.

Answers to be posted next week. Or you can look them up in Exploring Wine by CIA, Grapes and Wine by Oz Clark, The Wine Bible by Karen McNeil, The world Atlas of Wine by Johnson/Robinson

Cheers!

Sometimes Karma is an Enabler

I used to call my son ‘LB.’  It stood for ‘Little Bob.’  Now, that he’s pushing 6’3″ that nickname is no longer appropriate.  I still call him ‘LB.’  But the initials stand for something else, entirely.

Miami University

Miami University

Since last summer we have taken our son, who is now a high school senior, to visit several colleges.  While we were in Ohio, we visited Miami University, which happens to be my parents’ alma mater.  They joined us that day for the tour of the college.  While we were in Oxford, my Dad recounted to us a story from his college days.  While attending Miami, my Dad, because he is handy often did odd jobs for the university president.  One spring he was painting the president’s house when he stepped on a rotting board that had been there to cover a cesspool.  The board broke, and my Dad fell in. Grabbing onto the slippery sides, he was able to hoist himself up.  After he showered, he let the president know what had happened.  Aghast at what could have been a horrible and disgusting tragedy, the president gave my Dad a huge tip for all his trouble.  After that my grandfather would often quip, ‘Bill is the only person I know who can fall into a pile of shit and come up with a pile of money.’  It’s true.  Karma has been more than kind to my Dad on many occasions, occasions that for most people would have nothing but dire consequences.

This past fall my son, LB, applied to his three dream colleges for early action.  He, also, at his mother’s prodding applied to our local state college, UNR, although he has made it abundantly clear that he does not want to stay in Reno.  He has worked very hard to get excellent grades in an advanced program all so that he will be accepted into one of his dream colleges, the number one choice being Georgia Tech.

This week-end, thinking he should have heard something by now, I asked him to check on the status of his applications.  When he did, it was not unlike stepping onto the rotting board of a cesspool.  Unfortunately, only one application was complete.  In his haste last fall, he failed to have transcripts and test scores sent to his other two dream colleges, and the deadlines for even regular admission is past.  Well, LB, there’s nothing wrong with state college.  Now, LB is a lot like his grandfather in that he often falls into shit, yet, somehow comes out of it unscathed, sometimes even richer for it.  It is to the point where when LB leaves his wallet in the cup holder at the movie theater, and doesn’t realize it until he gets home, a seeming disaster for most people, I know that he will return to the theater and find his wallet completely intact, and he does.  Things always work out for him.  But this error, missing the deadlines for his dream colleges, was huge, a lost opportunity that he will never get back…or will he?

Montrachet is one of the most famous Grand Cru of Burgundy.  Just to the east of Montrachet is a lesser known Grand Cru region,  and that is Bâtard-Montrachet.  Its soils are heavier than that of its neighbor; its wines are not quite as elegant as that of its neighbor.  The sub-region of Bâtard-Montrachet has survived and recovered from the ravages of both oidium and phylloxera in the 19th century and was elevated to Grand Cru in 1937.  Though lesser known, it has a great reputation for white Burgundy.  I’m not saying it doesn’t deserve that reputation, but perhaps the region should be re-named Bâtard Chanceux.
Yesterday, LB received an email from Georgia Tech.  They noticed that his application was incomplete.  If he can get his transcripts and test scores to them by February 14th, they’ll extend the deadline and accept his application.  Of course they will.  There’s a reason why my son never learns from his mistakes.  He doesn’t have to, because for him, Karma is an enabler.  LB no longer stands for Little Bob.  It stands for Lucky Bastard, and he is.
Lucky Bastard #1

Lucky Bastard #1

Lucky Bastard #2

Lucky Bastard #2