October is International Merlot Month!
Merlot Month unites passionate wine lovers in a worldwide movement to celebrate this lavishly textured, dazzlingly versatile noble red grape varietal. More than 100 Merlot producers, wine merchants, restaurants and consumers will taste and toast online using the hashtag #MerlotMe, at events, in wine stores, restaurants and homes across the world this October. It is one of the most widely planted varietals in the world, the third most popular varietal in on-premise for both by-the-bottle and by-the-glass.
As part of this celebration I was invited to make a recipe that pairs well with Merlot. A number of wineries sent me their Merlots* in order to whip up something to go with them.
After much going back and forth between a meat dish, side dish and dessert, I settled on a dessert. While I’m eager for the fall and winter seasons and all the wonderful foods that will blend well with Merlot, I honestly am not quite ready to say good-bye to summer yet. So I meshed the two, chocolate and strawberries which also happens to equal a perfect pairing with Merlot.
- 2 cups all-purpose baking mix
- ⅓ cup cocoa
- 6 tablespoons sugar
- ⅓ cup cold butter, diced
- ⅓ cup milk
- 3 large eggs
- non-dairy whipped topping
- hot fudge topping
- Heat oven to 400 degrees F.
- In a bowl combine baking mix, cocoa, and sugar. Cut in butter with pastry blender or fork.
- Whisk milk and eggs together and add to dry mixture. Stir one minute.
- Fill brownie or muffin pan with batter, bake 12-15 minutes checking for doneness at 12 minutes by inserting cake tester or toothpick in center of cakes.
- Let cool for 10 minutes, remove from pan, cool completely.
- Cut cakes in half, spoon whipped topping on bottom half, top with sliced strawberries.
- Drizzle strawberries with hot fudge, top with top of cake.
The cakes themselves are not sweet because of the biscuit mix, but the strawberries and fudge give it just the right amount of sweet to complement the bite of saltiness in the chocolate cakes. With a serving of Merlot it’s a perfect late night dessert to usher in autumn.
Let me share a bit about the Merlots that the wineries sent me.
Trig Point 2014 Merlot – Diamond Dust Vineyard – Alexander Valley Merlot
The Diamond Dust Vineyard lies just south of the town of Geyersville in the renowned Alexander Valley wine region. Its old, low vigor vines consistently produce Merlot with more power and depth than typically found in the appellation. The Diamond Dust Vineyard is perfect for Merlot.
Tasting Note: Deep violet color; ripe plum and blackberry aromas with red raspberry and black cherry flavors. Full-bodied and dense, the palate is lush and finishes with velvety tannins and hints of cinnamon and nutmeg.
Find more information about Trig Point here: https://www.facebook.com/Trig-Point-wines-124953194235176/
Cannonball 2014 Merlot – Sonoma County Merlot
This vintage comes from Cannonball Wine Company’s estate vineyard, in the Northern Russian River Valley as well as some favorite vineyards in Sonoma Valley. The 2014 is 91% Merlot blended with small amounts of Petite Sirah and Syrah for complexity.
Tasting Note: On the palate the wine is medium-full bodied with classic Bordeaux proportions, wonderful concentration, with flavors of cherry, rich chocolate and spiced cake. The wine finishes with perfectly balanced texture and flavor and refreshing brightness. Enjoy with red meats, duck and pasta with rich sauces.
Find more information about Cannonball Wine Company here: www.drinkcannonball.com
Northstar 2012 Merlot – Columbia Valley
Diversity of vineyards and sub-appellations within the Columbia Valley are Northstar’s hallmarks. Fruit is selected from the very best possible sources throughout the Columbia Valley. Fruit from more than 10 separate vineyards and 14 different blocks contributed to the blend.
Tasting Note: The 2012 vintage has rich concentrated aromas of cherry, raspberry and chocolate that lead into flavors of cedar and vanilla with a lingering toasted oak finish. This highly structured wine was created to enjoy now, or for many years to come as it will age gracefully.
Find more information about Northstar Merlot here: www.northstarmerlot.com
Duckhorn Vineyards – 2013 Napa Valley Merlot
This Napa Valley Merlot is a complex blend of several individual vineyard lots, incorporating fruit from their estate vineyards and from top independent growers throughout the Napa Valley.
Tasting Note: This gorgeous wine displays intense aromas of ripe cherry, followed by more nuanced elements of cedar, sweet spices, orange peel and cigar box. On the palate, layers of black raspberry and spiced plum mingle with more savory notes of nutmeg and pencil lead. With firm, well-integrated tannins that extend the finish, this beautifully structured Merlot also promises great ageability.
Find more information about Duckhorn Wine Company here: www.duckhorn.com
So why not “dive in” to Merlot Month yourself?! Try some of the listed Merlots above and create your own unique recipe to celebrate. Don’t forget to share your wine and recipes with the hashtag #MerlotMe on social media. I can’t wait to see the wines you try and the foods you pair with them!
*I received samples of the wines featured above from the wineries for the purpose of this post. All opinions are my own, and no monetary compensation was provided.