A grape variety born in Bordeaux, Merlot often gets a bad rap due to the glut of simple, fruity wines that bear its name lined up on party store shelves. But when the soils and climate are ideal, and production is focused on quality, the variety is capable of making some of the most expressive wines in the world. Situated on the north side of the Dordogne River near the city of Libourne, the soils of mainly clay and limestone that cover the “Right Bank” Bordeaux appellations of Pomerol and Saint Émilion are capable of producing wines that reveal the complete range of the Merlot variety and are the reference points for the rest of the world.
While many of the wines of Pomerol and Saint Émilion are out of reach for the typical consumer, the entire area known as the Right Bank offers excellent quality and value through the important satellite appellations surrounding them. These often overlooked appellations produce wines with similar characteristics as the big two, with many of the top producer’s efforts surpassing expectations. We’re pleased to offer this boxful of wines illustrating the sublime characteristics of Merlot from its birthplace terroir.
Included in Merlot Glory: The Bounty of Bordeaux’s Backcountry 6-Bottle Package are one each of the following wines, two bottles of each wine (and a deeper discount) will be included in the 12-bottle package:
The discounted price includes tax and delivery. We will also honor a 10% discount on any bottles you might wish to add to the package.
Lalande de Pomerol
Lalande de Pomerol produces reds that, at their best, mimic Pomerol’s robust, earthy flavors at a fraction of the price. While there is more variation in terroir within the two appellations than between them, Lalande tends to have more gravel and sand compared to Pomerol’s heavier clay soils. Château Les Cruzelles 2016 (Regular $45) is an ample wine from perfectionist proprietor Denis Durantou, who is known for his celebrated Pomerol estate Château l’Eglise Clinet that is less than a mile away. A blend of 60% Merlot and 40% Cabernet Franc, it’s a hearty wine full of black raspberries, dark and juicy plums, and hints of cocoa and floral accents.
Castillon – Côtes de Bordeaux
Next-door neighbor Saint-Émilion has had a huge influence on Castillon. Saint-Émilion growers and chateau owners have taken advantage of lower-vineyard prices in Castillion to produce serious Saint-Émilion-style wines for a fraction of Saint-Émilion prices. Another beautiful bottle from star winemaker Denis Durantou of Château l’Eglise Clinet is Château Montlandrie 2016 (Regular $42). A blend of 65% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc, and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, from terroir of clay and limestone soils on the plateau of Cotes de Castillon. Fresh herbs, dark cherry and floral notes precede cherry liqueur, licorice, and spice that meld well with its ripe, elegant style.
Francs – Côtes de Bordeaux
Closer to Bergerac than the city of Bordeaux, Francs is a small jewel located next to Castillon. It is the smallest and most rural region at a little over 1,000 acres. 100% Merlot, Château Marsau 2016 (Regular $35) comes from vineyards with a terroir of clay, limestone and sandy soils. The vineyard is well situated on a slope that is close to the peak of the appellation’s plateau with an elevation of over 300 feet. The vines are on average 35 years of age. The wines are aged in 30% new, French oak barrels for 12 months before bottling to produce a wine of depth, tannin, roundness and plenty of ripe, smoky black cherries and plummy fruit from start to finish.
The appellation of Fronsac is another of Bordeaux’s lesser known winemaking regions. It is an area of back-country roads and tiny vineyards a stone’s throw from Pomerol and Saint-Émilion. Indeed, Fronsac is five times smaller than Saint-Émilion, with a more homogenous terroir of limestone and clay — “Fronsac molasses” it’s sometimes called by the grape farmers that toil its vineyards. In the right hands, wines made in Fronsac can be as good as many of the wines from its big-name neighbors. Château Clos du Roy 2018 (Regular $25) is one of them. 90% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc, and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon aged in 30% new, French oak barrels for 12 months produce a balanced wine full of fresh fruit, juicy acidity, and muscular tannin.
Montagne-Saint-Émilion is the largest of the Saint Émilion satellite villages, and many consider it the best. It is also the location of one of France’s top viticultural research colleges. Clos de Boüard is the newest project for Coralie de Boüard, owner of La Fleur de Boüard in the Lalande de Pomerol appellation, and daughter of Hubert de Boüard of the famous Château Angelus. The estate’s vines are an average of 35 years old. They also have very old vines that range from 60 to 70 years of age. Château Clos de Boüard “Dame de Boüard” 2018 (Regular $24) is the second wine of Clos de Boüard and a blend of 60% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Franc, and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. Fresh, bright fruits, chocolate and licorice work together perfectly in this forward, open, and easy to drink wine.
Blaye – Côtes de Bordeaux
Blaye was an important river port in Roman times, and today, the Citadel of Blaye is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is a source of lovely and accessible red wines, driven by fresh fruit. Biodynamically cultivated since 2008 by nature-loving winemaker, Bruno Martin, Château Roland La Garde “Tradition” 2016 (Regular $23) is a blend of 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon from vines 20 years old grown in clay and limestone soils. Two-thirds of the wine ages in barrels while one-third ages in vat for 12 months. It is a wine with finesse and harmony, good balance, and a tannic structure that highlight the aromas of red fruits.