Mystery: The Monthly Wine Writing Challenge

“Oh, sweet mystery of life at last I’ve found you! At last, I know the secret of it all!” is the lines of the song that Madeline Kahn sings when she is with The Monster in “Young Frankenstein.”

 wine-stain Monthly Wine Challenge

Mystery is the theme that has been selected for the latest Monthly Wine Writing Challenge.  At first I was going to try to do a parody of Dashiell Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon.  I thought of Effie Perine, the secretary bringing in the Levantine Joel Cairo’s calling card scented with Viognier and a wine discussion between Sam Spade and Kasper Gutman and ending with Sam Spade walking into the elevator cage with Tom Polhaus carrying a bottle of wine in a brown paper bag and exclaiming “The, uh, stuff that dreams are made of.”  Then I thought of rehashing an earlier article that I wrote about one of the many Murder Mysteries that my Bride and I have hosted over the years and the wines that accompanied the dinners.  Then I thought another article that I had wrote about a puzzle that I had to put together to solve a short story.  My brain was going in a dozen different directions about what I could write about, and sometimes I am not that creative.  As a Raconteur I just relate actual stories or memories about wines.  Then another line of dialogue from a movie hit me and it made me think, it also made me think about having a glass of wine.

 Ch Ausone 1957

 Jack: If they want to drink Merlot, we’re drinking Merlot.
Miles Raymond: No, if anyone orders Merlot, I’m leaving. I am NOT drinking any fucking Merlot!

 Duckhorn Merlot Three Palms Vineyard 1999

I apologize if anyone is offended by the language and I debated if I should censor the dialogue, but I decided to leave it intact.  A mystery that has haunted me, since the earliest days of my discovery and study of wines; why is the Merlot varietal so maligned and unappreciated?  From my early days I have drank and tasted Clarets from the Bordeaux region, but even from those early days I found that I really enjoyed the “Burgundy” of Bordeaux, the wines of Saint-Emilion across two rivers from Bordeaux.  It is here that the Merlot grape shines, though it is always going to take a back seat to the Cabernet Sauvignon of the Medoc.  The wines of Saint-Emilion are fuller, more supple, like a fine lady, than the heavy fist of a Pauillac, which I also enjoy.  I think that they were more “drinkable” in my youth, because they were not as heavy with tannins, which was an acquired taste.

 Marilyn Merlot Napa 1999

I am sure that part of this stems from the politics of the wine industry.  The Medoc was classified in 1855, but it took another hundred years to classify the wines of Saint-Emilion.  The pecking order even was handled differently, but as far as I am concerned a Chateau Ausone or a Chateau Cheval Blanc could rival any of the First Growths of the Medoc, and unfortunately they also command the same prices.

In the New World wines made from Merlot can be found from “jug” wines to artesian crafted wines.  The Duckhorn family I personally feel made their name from Merlot wines especially The Howell Mountain Merlot and Three Palms Vineyard.  I also have to admit that I have been a fan of the Marilyn Merlot wines for years and have enjoyed the many vintages that they have offered.  So I would have to disagree with the character Miles Raymond from the movie Sideways, that if anyone offered me a fine bottle of Merlot, I would be first in line to try a glass or two.

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About thewineraconteur

A non-technical wine writer, who enjoys the moment with the wine, as much as the wine. Twitter.com/WineRaconteur Instagram/thewineraconteur Facebook/ The Wine Raconteur
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21 Responses to Mystery: The Monthly Wine Writing Challenge

  1. Stefano says:

    OMG, what a wonderful entry, John: there is not a single word that I do not 100% agree with, in all respects! I loved your movie selections and quotes: well, Young Frankenstein is one of my all time favorite movies, the Maltese Falcon brought back great memories of time past and one of the greatest actors ever and finally Sideways was such an enjoyable movie. Plus I am absolutely with you regarding this “reverse snobbery” about Merlot: I love good Merlot and personally think there is nothing wrong with it, especially with nicely aged St Emilion Grands Crus Classees! Good for you that you had an opportunity to enjoy Ausone and Cheval Blanc, they must be spectacular.
    Well, for this round you got my vote! 🙂
    All the best and (although belatedly) Happy New Year!

    • Stefano,
      Thank you for stopping by and your kind words. It is amazing what happens to my brain when I ponder a word some time, and the way it tries to find a proper subject for the theme. All three of the movies I cited are very enjoyable to me, and I am glad to see that you enjoy them as well. Maybe I am just a renegade, because I still enjoy some of the varietals that seem to be shunned these days, it just means more for me to find at a better price (hopefully).
      And a belated Happy New Year to you and yours as well.
      – John

  2. Great post! And I agree . . . I 💜 Merlot! Maybe we should have t-shirts or something . . . Salud!

  3. talkavino says:

    John, great entry! And I have to agree – all this dissing of Merlot is a great mystery to me, where I think Merlot is even in the lead among single varietal wines scoring 100 points from many of the wine critics, nevertheless it is so popular to bring it down by so many. Anyway, more Merlot for us : )

  4. I love Merlot. When I was working at the wine store, it was only a couple years removed from the movie. So Pinot Noir was the rage and, I believe, the demand artificially drive up prices. I just sold them what they wanted and grinned that there was more Merlot for me.

    • I seem to have brought out a few endorsements for us rebel wine drinkers, that are not afraid to admit that we enjoy a good bottle of Merlot. Thank you for your admission and for stopping by.
      – John

  5. SAHMmelier says:

    Love Merlot. In fact one of my favorite posts I’ve done was in defense of my love for the grape. Have you seen the Gun Bun video?

  6. Always preferred Merlot over CabSauv anyway, so spot on for me.

  7. Enjoyed reading this a lot – not least for the reminder about Young Frankenstein. Light that cigar!

  8. Here’s to a lovely glass of Merlot, where ever you find you enjoy it from. Finishing a bottle of Walla Walla Merlot this evening as I read.

  9. thewinebaron says:

    Good article. We’re on the same page on these subjects. TWB

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