The Wine Idiot Reviews: Buena Vista Merlot, 2012 ($9.99)
Wine and California history--two of my very favorite things IN ONE BOTTLE. At Trader Joe's. How did I get so lucky??
So I was at my local TJ's and decided to grab a bottle of something. I was just wandering down the aisles, wondering what would catch my eye--when it was indeed caught by the lovely script of the Buena Vista label.
I had just read about this winery somewhere in the internets. Founded in 1857 by Agoston Haraszthy, it's the oldest commercial winery in California. Over on the Buena Vista Winery website, there's a brilliant interactive timeline of the whole story you should really check out if you're nerdy like me.
I asked the guy stocking in the wine aisle if they had any other varieties from this winemaker; he said, "Not right now...sometimes we get pinot noir? But it sells out really fast." So if you see a Buena Vista wine at your local TJ's, buy it quick!
I don't think I can emphasize this enough--THIS REVIEW CANNOT BE IMPARTIAL BECAUSE OF HOW MUCH I LOVE CALIFORNIA HISTORY. I knew as soon as I put this in my basket I would be delighted. It could have been worse than that Cherry Blossom Pinot Noir and I probably would have been all "it was drinkable."
Fortunately, it was actually good. Ok fine, IT WAS GREAT but I honestly can't tell if that's because the wine was good or I was just super-excited to be drinking wine from the oldest winery in California.
I don't drink a lot of merlot, because Sideways, obviously. I'm not saying that proudly--I'm saying I wasn't drinking a lot of wine when Sideways came out so I was terrified that if I ever ordered or purchased merlot I would look like a total n00b. Turns out, merlot will get you just as drunk as any other wine, and will frequently taste great in the process.
Like this one! It smells like something completely elusive--I wrote down "cinnamon roll????" I swear, it smells like a baked good of some kind. It's interesting--not as character-less as that Chariot Gypsy red blend, but not as challenging as, say, that La Finca Tempranillo. It's very smooth and easy to drink. It's almost like there are peppery notes, but they only float to the top as you swallow. I would absolutely pair this with just about anything you'd drink red wine with, but it's probably best if you drink it while alternately looking at the beautiful old-tymey label and maybe peeking at all the rad photos on the website (I WANT TO GO SO BAD).
What the bottle says: (AAAAH it's one of those paragraphs!) "Founded in 1857, Buena Vista is California's first premium winery. Located in the heart of the Carneros Appellation, wind and fog from the San Pablo Bay cool the vines allowing the grapes a longer growing season. Buena Vista's founder, the Count of Buena Vista, identified the Carneros climate and soil as the optimal location for quality grapes. Being true to our heritage, Buena Vista Winery presents to you the Carneros Merlot, a full-bodied wine with aromas of pomegranate and chocolate, and smooth tannins on the finish."
What the Wine Idiot says: WAIT DID I CALL "SMOOTH TANNINS ON THE FINISH" OR WHAT?! Let's just all take a moment to appreciate that I'm getting better at tasting wine with every bottle. And now let's all raise a glass to enriching hobbies.
Who's responsible for this? "Produced & Bottled by Buena Vista Winery, Saint Helena, CA"
Do I need a corkscrew? Obviously, THIS IS A CLASSY WINE.
What do smarter people say about it? WHOA this is the very first Trader Joe's wine I've reviewed that Wine Enthusiast has seen fit to also review!!!! "Made in a relatively light-bodied, soft style, this wine has a weedy, herbal element at its heart, and could use more fruit to balance out. It ends in a taste of bittersweet chocolate and espresso."
Should I bring it to a friend's house? Screw you, Wine Enthusiast. I think it's great and yes, you could definitely bring this to a friend's house. Especially if it's mine.