The Flora and Stone Merlot in 2021 is a $6.99 non-vintage ALDI wine from California. An inexpensive budget supermarket wine normally does not inspire a great deal of confidence. But we recently reviewed the Flora and Stone Gewürztraminer, a $4.99 non-vintage wine, and it was an enjoyable drink.
Flora and Stone wines are made by Pacific Bay Vineyards, which seems to be a part of Fetzer, a winery that features sustainably farmed wines. They offer both Gewürztraminer and Merlot wines in the value category. Both of those wines are vintage-dated. But the Flora and Stone wines may have some relationship to the Fetzer wines.
The Flora and Stone Merlot in 2021 is one of the rare Merlot wines in the budget segment. Merlot is one of the Noble grapes, and it seems to have fallen out of favor with wine drinkers. In 2005 the movie, Sideways, featured a scene where the main character refused to drink Merlot and wanted only Pinot Noir.
The sales for Pinot Noir skyrocketed while Merlot sales dipped. California Pinot Noir was coming into its own around the time of the movie, so folks who were inspired to give it a try found some great wines. Merlot, on the other hand, never regained its prominence, at least for value-priced wine.
Merlot wine in Bordeaux and Napa Valley is still remarkable wine. $10 or so, Merlot is scarce. It seems that even Red blends are using more Zinfandel and Petite Sirah than Merlot. Merlot is the main component of the Bordeaux red blend, the most famous Red wine in the world.
They farmed more French Colombard and Pinot Gris/Grigio than Merlot in California in 2018. Chardonnay is #1, and Cabernet Sauvignon is #2. From 1990 to 2010, Merlot rivaled Cabernet Sauvignon in popularity.
Wine grapes do have swings in sales; Australian Shiraz/Syrah was red hot a decade ago, and now, not so much. Malbec was everywhere a few years ago and has cooled down. Maybe it is time for Merlot is start to rise. The alcohol content is 13.5%.
Flora and Stone Merlot in 2021 Tasting Notes
The color is a clear, clean, see-thru cherry red. The nose is excellent, much better than I expected for a 7 buck Merlot; there is black pepper, green pepper, leather, plum, herbs, light spice, and black cherry. The Flora and Stone Merlot in 2021 is slightly jammy upfront with a more rustic mid-palate. This is not a cookie-cutter Merlot; it has personality.
It tastes like black cherry, a splash of black pepper, a shock of spice, and then some cooling plum. The mid-palate brings dusty tannins, bitter chocolate, sour cranberry, and sweet raspberry. The flavor profile suggests a wine well beyond this price point.
This is a medium-bodied wine and generally smooth on the palate. Some of the flavors may not be perfectly balanced, but nothing to the point that affects drinkability.
- The Flora and Stone Merlot in 2021 is far better than a non-vintage $6.99 budget supermarket wine would lead you to believe.
- This Merlot was both smooth and had bold intersting flavors.
- Maybe it is time to start thinking about Merlot wines again.