Merlot has had a rough decade. Though it plays a starring role in some of the world’s rarest and priciest wines (Petrus, Cheval Blanc, Ausone), the Sideways effect has dampened sales and made the grape unfashionable. And we’ll admit, there’s plenty of bland, boring Merlot out there.
That’s usually our lead up to pitching a right bank Bordeaux, but today we have something different. A few years ago we stumbled across the Domaine Souverain in the Rhône Valley, a tiny producer with no website and no road sign — he even shares his barrel room with his neighbor. But the wines are honest, straightforward, and, as one customer recently put it, “highly drinkable.”
We’ll have his popular Séguret in a Futures offering later this year, but we picked up a bit of his refreshing gulpable Merlot in time to enjoy this summer.
Souverain’s Merlot isn’t sophisticated or serious like Bordeaux; nor is it rich and velvety like the a New World Merlot. In style it’s almost more akin to a well made Beaujolais — bursting, ripe fruit and a clean balanced mouthfeel. Chauvin practices low intervention winemaking, and his wines show the hallmarks of a natural style — low alcohol (13%), complex earthiness, and great freshness. There’s no oak and lots of fruit.
In the nose Souverain’s Merlot is intense and lively, with bright notes of raspberry jam, lavender, earth and honey. In the mouth it’s juicy and perfectly balanced — intense fruit, solid freshness, present but approachable tannin. Pair this with a picnic and a sunny afternoon and you’ll think you’re in Provence.
Don’t overthink this wine — it’s not complex or sublime or expensive. It’s just fun.
Souverain Merlot 2017
bottle price : $15
FREE EAST COAST SHIPPING ON ANY 12 BOTTLES