Three Saints Vineyard2003 Merlot
(Santa Ynez Valley)
Santa Barbara County may not be the first area that comes to mind if you’re thinking about Merlot. But spend a summer’s day in Santa Ynez Valley and you’ll know it gets warm enough to ripen Bordeaux varietals. Then go as far east (and away from the ocean influence) in the valley, where it gets really hot. You’ll understand why the Dierberg family (who also own Dierberg Vineyard in the Santa Maria Valley) were savvy enough to plant both Cabernet and Merlot.
Their Three Saints Vineyard label is an odd duck, but in a good way. Winemaker Nic de Luca puts the same amount of effort into this label as he does with the more expensive Dierberg and Star Lane Vineyard releases, but the wines are more fruit forward and meant to be accessible upon release. Full on aromas of black cherry and plum are prominent in the 2003 Three Saints Merlot and those dark fruit flavors show up on the palate along with a streak of wild cherry, chocolate and cassis. This is not a wimpy wannabe Merlot like most modern Merlots; this one has flavor complexity and a backbone with some still as yet unresolved tannins, suggesting this is a Merlot that Caberet drinkers would warm up to.
Reviewed September 15, 2006 by Dennis Schaefer.
Dennis Schaefer has been tasting and writing about wine for over 30 years, propelled by a continuing curiosity and burgeoning enthusiasm for discovering what’s in the bottle. Blessed with catholic tastes, he enjoys everything from the obvious to the sublime. A major requirement is that the vineyard, winery and winemaker consistently perform well and fulfill their potential. Balance, concentration and complexity are key to the tasting experience but, in the end, the purpose of wine is simply to give pleasure.