Irish Monkey Cellars
2007 MerBec - California

MerBec (from Merlot MalBec) is the "perfect note" blend of Merlot and Malbec, with each providing a taste and aroma that is complimentary to the other. As you'll read below, the Merlot from the Lovall Valley is a racy, bright, "high note" type wine. The Malbec from Lodi is a deep, slow moving, almost oily wine - but blended in just the right way, it cuts down the raciness of the Merlot and gives it great power and strength.

Malbec is among the world's most widely grown vines - if you take into account the Argentines. Their focus on the Malbec grape is nearly to the same unusual degree that California took to the almost unknown Zinfandel grape and made it "their State grape". The Malbec variety is noted for being almost blue-violet as a wine. Many wines range from red to deepest ruby or almost fuschia, but few can match the Malbec for bringing the powerful Blue into the wine.

The Merlot from the Lovall Valley is high-grown with jacket-cool conditions in the Summer, year around. The cooler evenings ensure that the grapes do not 'lose' their sharp racy aromas and mouth feel. The merlot is similar to many of the French growths, in that it ripens well, is a reliable producer and brings a very 'flinty' character to the resulting wine.

Serving
Temperature Room Temp The depth of the flavor is perfectly supported by room-temperature serving. It is important to let the wine breathe for at least 1 hour before serving, as it undergoes a complex and very sophisticated post-opening evolution in that period.
Glass Balloon Bowl Just as "room temperature" is suggested for presentation, so too is a large bowl to give plenty of surface area to the evolving flavors. We have done "trials" with the same bottle of wine served in 3 different glasses only differing in bowl size. The malbec just flowers in the largest bowls.
Transition to

Barbera
Cabernet Sauvignon
Merlot
Primitivo
Zinfandel

Since virtually no wine will have the depth of flavor of the Malbec (except possibly the Charbono), it becomes easy to see that the red wine that follows must have fruity-floral character to act as counterpoint. Each of the wines listed to the left does, in differing degree. The Sangiovese in particular makes and excellent follow-on, as directly one can move to the first course, with the lighter bodied wine to compliment it.