Thursday, January 2, 2014

Black Eyed Peas and Merlot - A Match Made in Heaven?

Boo may have lived North of the 49th Parallel for decades now but, deep down, he's still got some Southern blood flowing through his veins. For years now, it's been a tradition at our home - much like it was in his in his youth - to start the year with black eyed peas and corn bread.

There was a slight problem to 2014's start, however. Boo had to work New Year's Day and that meant that it was left to me to prepare the traditional vittles.

That's some heavy pressure. So, to be on the safe side, I figured I should open a big bottle of wine that might distract Boo's attention if my black eyed peas didn't quite meet expectations.

1511.  2007  Duckhorn Napa Valley Merlot (Napa Valley - California)

Duckhorn is one of those brands that I've known about for many a year. It's just not one that's graced my glass much through those years - much to my dismay I found out as we quickly worked our way through this bottle.

Established in 1976, Duckhorn made an early decision to focus on the production of Merlot despite Napa's primary emphasis on Cab Sauv.  At the time, Merlot was primarily seen as a blending grape but co-founders Dan and Margaret Duckhorn thought that valley producers under appreciated Merlot as a varietal wine. The Duckhorns were big fans of wines from St. Emilion and Pomerol and, like the right bank wineries in Bordeaux, they stayed with an emphasis on Merlot. I'm a fan of their viewpoint.

The estate has seven vineyards throughout Napa and, when added to the fruit that the winery buys from independent growers in the Valley, the winery has an abundance of different flavour profiles to work with. Duckhorn produces a number of single vineyard Merlots but this Napa Valley Merlot is a blend of grapes from throughout the valley and is the winery's take on what the valley, as a whole, can do with the Merlot grape. The wine also sees some Cab Sauv (10%) and a touch of Petit Verdot (1%) added to emphasize the depth and structure of the wine.

We certainly see a lot of Merlot emanating from our home vineyards in the Okanagan Valley, but there's no doubt that this was big in comparison - and tasty a one at that. The winery touts "signature flavours of black cherry, plum and spice." I'll just let things rest with that.

Now, I'm far from regretting my choice in wine tonight, but it turns out that I never should have been worried about needing to distract Boo with the wine in the first place. Turns out I could have easily opened a bottle of Two Buck Chuck for dinner and survived any meal proclamations - because even I agreed that these were some damned fine peas.

Now, should the same scenario arise next year, re-creating my peas might be a bit of an issue since I don't know what I did that made them so tasty - but I'm going to take it as a great start to the new year. Fine Peas. Fine wine. Works for me. Here's hoping the rest of 2014 follows suit.

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