French Bordeaux wines like this bone-dry, midweight red present a perplexing paradox. These red wines have a sterling reputation for quality and are prized for their food-friendly flavors of wild berries and green herbs. They are almost invariably blends that are dominated by one of two native grapes, merlot or cabernet sauvignon. However, only one of these grapes, cabernet sauvignon, is revered worldwide. Merlot is widely maligned as inferior, particularly in the United States, but this is a perception with little basis in fact; merlot is just as noble a grape as its more famous sibling. Merlot vines outnumber cabernet sauvignon in the Bordeaux region by a factor of almost three to one because they are considerably better suited to the region’s cool and moist maritime climate. Merlot wines may not be as dark in color or as assertive in flavor as cabernet sauvignons, but they also are less harshly astringent and considerably more generous in their blackberry and pomegranate flavors. As a result, the vast majority of red Bordeaux contain at least two-thirds merlot, as with this modestly priced but overperforming wine.
Château St. Sulpice Bordeaux, $12.99 (regularly $16.99). Sale price through Sunday. PLCB item #3616.