The 2010 Red Rock Reserve Merlot is sourced from vineyards in several California grape growing AVA’s, but mainly from Sonoma, with Monterey and Napa providing most of the rest. Red Rock is one of E & J Gallo’s 60 brands of wines and spirits. Gallo has extensive vineyard holdings in Sonoma as well as other areas. The wine went thru an oak “program” which does not necessarily mean aged in oak barrels. Often, with value priced, drink it now wines, oak chips or oak staves are added to the vats to give the wine oak flavor but none of the aging properties. This Merlot was aged “on lees” for 9 months and then for another 2 months in the bottle before release. “On lees” means the wine was aged with the dead yeast and the grape residue left in the vats with the wine, this imparts extra flavor and texture. The alcohol content is13.8%.
The color is black cherry red with a pink, almost clear halo. The nose is raspberry and blackberry, with a whiff of oak spice and a little mocha. Red Rock’s tasting notes for this Merlot emphasized smoothness and balance, but here smooth does not equal simple. It tastes of ripe blueberry and blackberry, sour cranberry, Nestle’s Quik powder and vanilla. The mid palate adds a slap of dusty tannins and a slightly rough (and welcome) brush of curry spice. This is not a “fruit bomb,” it has unexpected balance for this price range (I found it for $8.99) and nice bit of complexity on the palate. The soft berry finish starts off strong, fades quickly, but does hang around for a while.
The 2010 Red Rock Reserve (all Red Rock’s single varietal wines are called Reserve) Merlot is a solid, well priced, everyday Merlot. Ir drinks very well on its own and a glass or two would complement any dinner from pizza to a steak on the outdoor grill. In the late 2000s Merlot went thru a boring period, it was the color beige of the wine world. But not anymore, this Merlot from Red…Rocks.