2005 Clos Pegase Napa Valley Merlot

Pimento? Pimento.

Every once in a while, I come across a descriptor I haven’t used before, or at least haven’t used for a particular varietal wine. I drank this wine last night, in fact it is bumping back a handful of fantastic Italian wines I have to review, because I just wanted to get this one out there.

Pimento. Pimento? Yup, pimento.

You may remember Clos Pegase (ok maybe not, but I do) as the creators of the wonderfully stinky sauvignon blanc I drank in Walt Disney World’s upscale California Grill restaurant in Orlando, Florida, last December.

Last night, the same four people (myself, my wife Heather, and my parents) were enjoying dinner together at a decidedly less tut-tut dining establishment, the impressive Chow in Danville, CA. I noticed a Clos Pegase merlot on the wine list, and as I intended to get a burger, this seemed to make sense as a quality choice.

The wine came to the table (a generous pour), and I sniffed and sipped without intending to review it, but then I was hit by something that took me a second to place. It was pimento.

Just a hint, mind you. The wine looks just like a merlot should, a dark ruby that doesn’t lighten too much to the edges. On the nose is a mix of dark cherry and raspberry jam, with a hint of vanilla, all in all this merlot gives you no surprises to this point.

Then, you sip. There is an earthy quality, a hint (very slight) of toasted oak, some good rich cherry jam, and there, on the tip of your tongue, at the front of the palate, is a slightly sweet, slightly peppery pimento note.

I liked it. It was more different than great, but it certainly wasn’t bad. The wine would score higher if I felt like it had better structure or more complexity to it. Still, it’s one I won’t soon forget, and this bit of nuance gives it a character you simply don’t often see in merlot. At $20-$30 per bottle, I’d say this is the wine for you if you’re in a merlot funk and have lost faith in this classic grape.

Verdict: 88/100

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