Yes, the name is a bit of a joke. Some friends of mine (6 of them) started coming to BONDA three years ago once a month for Open That Bottle Night.
They would choose a wine theme, Shiraz, California, 2003 Pinot, etc.... and each contribute a bottle and judge who brought the best. Jamie and I would dip in here and there, trying some of the wines and adding our two cents.
The natural evolution turned to pairing 2 people together to bring in better wines, which begat buying wines at auction for the group. I have been participating off an on for the last 18 months, and was lucky enough to make it to last night's Merlot tasting.
The first wine was a 750 ml of 2003 Etude Merlot from Napa Valley. It was sweet on the nose, with a medium body and mild tannins. Not a lot of fruit for a Cali Merlot - which is good -but a handful of oak, and a hint of bitterness in the finish. We were having a bit of Roaring Forties blue cheese, which I thought "muted" the wine - Sam said "it goes well!"
"smooth", "straight forward", "playing it safe", "solid", "I could drink this everyday" - although I think this was facetious.
Next up was a magnum of 2001 Fisher Vineyards 157 Estate Merlot. We decanted this for about an hour, maybe more and drank it with our first course, mostly bacon dishes. I had bacon with fingerling potatoes and onions, which really complemented the vino.
On the nose, I thought the Fisher resembled a Montepulciano, specifically a 1998 Pepe. Super high toned fruit, with acetone, fig and cherry. I was in love with the nose, I wanted to drink the nose. On the palate it was a little disappointing with mild fruit, medium tannins and a touch of bitterness in the finish. It definitely did not live up to the nose. Sam said it tasted like rotten tomatoes.
It was great to try these Merlots as they really bucked the thought of Cali Merlot being big fruit bombs.
The last Magnum we had was a 2003 Peterson Family Merlot. Unfortunately my pen ran out of ink, but this wine was awesome and won the night. Bizarre in that it did not resemble a Merlot, but more like a well balanced Zin. Gobs of black fruit, spice, with a touch of oak. After decanting for two hours, it could have gone longer. This wine with last for at least 15 years. Go buy some now!
Sorry I forgot to take some pics, but it was a busy night at the restaurant and Jamie left early!