Relish Wine Picks – March 2010
by Wini Moranville and Charles Smothermon

This month’s Relish issue is all about breakfast — not the most wine-worthy of meals (though some might argue that point!). Rather than offering our monthly wine pairings, we thought this would be a good month to offer up some random “Wild Card Wines”— bottles that fly under the radar either because they’re made in small quantities or they come from lesser-known regions. Note that you may need to head to a specialty wine shop or order online to find these well-kept secrets.

(P.S.: If you’re parlaying any of the month’s breakfast recipes into brunch, check out this month’s Good Glass of Wine column, which highlights sparkling wines—always great with eggs).

A Merlot with Something Extra: Gordon Brothers Family Vineyards Columbia Valley Merlot 2007 ($23)

We all know the bad rap that Merlot gets for being soft and fruity and not much else. But then, you come across an amazing version and you fall in love with the grape all over again. That happened to me when I recently tasted the Gordon Brothers Columbia Valley Merlot 2007 ($23). With just 5,000 cases made, it might not be on every store shelf, but it is worth seeking out.

Aged in a mix of French and American oak barrels for 9 months and blended with wee bits of Cabernet Sauvingon (2 percent) and Syrah (5 percent), the richly fruity wine offers bold dark-cherry and toasty notes, along with a wee bit of that little something extra I often find in great Washington reds: a curiously spicy angle that’s vaguely reminiscent of cinnamon red-hots candy. And I mean that in a good way! The flavor adds a bit of sprightly refreshment that makes this generous wine surprisingly light on its feet around foods.