There's a big bouquet on this Merlot of baked cherries and plums with savory, meaty notes and undertones of cinnamon and clove. It a complex wine, varietally on the mark, that delivers a mouthful of sweet dark fruit with allspice, vanilla, chocolate and loamy earth-- well made, nicely textured with a long finish.
Red cherry, vanilla, spice and iron.
The vineyard of Chatom Vineyards is nestled in the breathtaking Esmeralda Valley of the Sierra Foothills in Calaveras County. The valley was originally planted with low field crops, fruits and nut trees. When Gay Callan, owner and native San Franciscan, purchased the property in 1980, her vision was to plant a vineyard. Her first varietals were planted in 1981, totaling 21 acres of Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc. Today, the vineyard boasts 13 varietals planted on 65 acres, including Chardonnay, Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Zinfandel, Syrah, Sangiovese and 5 Portuguese varietals.
Poultry, veal and pork will suit this red blend's intermediate structure, as will quickly cooked cuts of beef or lamb. Fresh herbs or leafy green vegetables will harmonize with Merlot's inherently herbaceous character, while silky pan sauces and other rich preparations will echo the wine's texture. Steer clear of sauces made with tomatoes or other acidic ingredients, which can make low-acid red wines like Merlot taste flat. The rich combination of fruits and spices in the wine will make a terrific match for the panoply of flavors in my Mushroom Crostata with Blue Cheese--rich, unctuous mushrooms blended with cream, garlic, shallots and Parmesan cheese are then put into a delicate pastry crust and crowned with blue cheese and baked.
The noteworthy Sierra Foothill region is now experiencing a resurgence of accolades, with the "Gold Rush" coming from medals and awards for handcrafted wines rather than the precious shiny metals coming out of the ground.