Amy 2014 Merlot

Stellenbosch, South Africa; 13.5% ABV
$6 at the Richmond, CA, store on 22 March

Amy_2014_MerlotAlthough I’m not much of a Merlot drinker, the description on the back label sounded pretty good, so I got a bottle during the sale.

I felt this wine needed 1.5 – 2 hours’ air to show dark red cherry, blackberry, red / purple plum, rusty earth, green bell pepper, and black pepper, with a drying, tannic finish.  The fruit has some soft ripeness to it, but there is also plenty of tangy acid.  The wine seems a little young, but is otherwise nicely elegant and well-made.  Fans of the savory style of South African wines should find a lot to like here, especially if you are more of a Merlot drinker.

The saved single-glass, screwcap bottle of this wine was really good.  The flavors overall are much the same, but more forward and better integrated, and the savory, rusty earth quality had a smokiness that’s delicious.  The finish is still a bit tannic.  In light of this second-day performance, you don’t even need to be much of a Merlot drinker to like this wine.

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19 thoughts on “Amy 2014 Merlot

  1. GOwinelover

    Just opened my first bottle of this and I get a lot of smoke, but I like it. I find the wine pretty fun and unlike a lot of wine I drink. I would think Stellenbosch is a *very* up and coming region and can see wine like this in Whole Foods’ <$15 type of section flying off the shelves. Fun one and those who like non-Merlot will enjoy, too

    Reply
  2. BargainWhine Post author

    A customer pointed out to me yesterday that most of the Amy Merlot we have now is the 2013, not the 2014 reviewed here. Has anyone tried the 2013?

    Reply
  3. lim13

    Tried a bottle of this Merlot tonight. I found BW’s description above to be very accurate. Here’s my take: Clear Merlot-typical medium ruby; forward, smoky bell pepper…almost Chipotle-like nose; in the mouth, the first thing that hits my palate is acidity and tannins with a decent dose of both…then it’s more smokiness and bell pepper with subtle dried cherry fruit; drying astringency in the finish. I tend to appreciate softer, smoother Merlots with more fruit (less savory) and less astringency. The acidity would likely contribute to ageability, but this just isn’t a Merlot that I appreciate. Will see what happens to the open bottle in the next day or three. In regard to BW’s last sentence above, I suspect there are many Merlot lovers who (like me) may not appreciate this wine, as it really doesn’t strike me as being very varietal. I have to admit, I don’t recall seeing many Merlots from South Africa.

    Reply
    1. lim13

      Next day, a bit more fruit showing…but it still just doesn’t seem very varietal to me…and the acidity seems to be more accentuated. Have you tried this wine, Seedboy? Or are you not much into Merlots (don’t recall you commenting on any in the past)?

      Reply
    2. Darrell

      Lim, I am not sure how you would describe the varietal character of your kind of Merlot. When I see you and BW mention bell pepper and smoky bell pepper, I would say that’s one of the characteristics or components of some Merlot and other Bordeaux varietals though not widely liked. I think when people mention bell pepper, they don’t necessarily mean straight bell pepper, but a variation of it. I read some tastings of fine Bordeaux and people will mention a greenness. Others describe it as vegetal. For me, some of the CA Merlots come across as sweet and candyish in the mouth. I don’t care much for the fruity type of Merlot here in CA.

      Reply
      1. lim13

        I guess I expect to find more distinct fresh red cherry flavors in Merlot (rather than dried cherry, like Chianti and many Tuscan reds). That’s not what I found in this wine. The fruit, in general seemed muted while the more savory flavors were accentuated. The smoky pepper, bell pepper, green or vegetal flavors just didn’t seem in balance with the fruit. Had I tried this blind, I’d have never guessed it was Merlot. I’m not fond of candyish Merlots either, but I expect more defined fruit. WA state Merlots can have those bell pepper flavors, but usually show more fruit too. And some of those bell pepper flavors from early WA Merlots (in the 70’s & 80’s) were somewhat reined-in by better canopy management and leaf stripping.

        Reply
        1. seedboy

          This is pretty characteristic of the Stellenbosch bordeaux wines I have tried. They tend to be not very fruity, more savory, and to have a minty/bell pepper flavor.

          Reply
  4. lim13

    This wine just arrived in Silverdale, WA GO. I see lots of comments on this post, but it appears that no one but BW actually tried it. Any other comments specific to the flavors and body of this Merlot?

    Reply
    1. BargainWhine Post author

      I got a bottle yesterday, since the Merlot was so good, and I hope to get to it in the next few days.

      Reply
      1. Darrell

        BW, let us know how it relates to some of the Winter Hill vintages which were quite reasonable in price.

        Reply
    2. BargainWhine Post author

      I opened it last night, and think it’s quite good. It’s kind of like a Chilean Sauv Blanc, but with more tropical yellow fruit than floral – citrusy yellow fruit.

      Reply
  5. Darrell

    While evaluating two Bordeaux during the sale, this wine caught my eye when I saw Stellenbosch. I should have tried a bottle in the parking lot because from the evaluation it might be up my alley. I don’t mind the green bell pepper or related aromas from that region and this character is in their CS and Merlot seems to be a microclimate, terroir thing to me. If someone were to place a Bordeaux from a respectable chateau and said this is a glass of very good Bordeaux, I wouldn’t be able to distinguish whether the cepage was Left or Right Bank, it’s just a good Bordeaux. The cause or non-wine statements on a bottle are a put off for me for trying a bottle and I am quite familiar with the Amy story due to her background. Her parent’s were quite forgiving which is difficult for me to understand as a parent. Since BW has evaluated the wine and it sounds like typical Stellenbosch, I’ll have to try a bottle. I feel like opening a Le Riche or Road Less Traveled for some reason.

    Reply
    1. Darrell

      The 2003 Le Riche CS/merlot blend of this bottle opened today was fine. I’d say one in 4 or 5 bottles are off. Had the dusty greenness I like from the Stellenbosch. I open these bottles with some apprehension.

      Reply
      1. seedboy

        I love that wine. Darrell, were you around for the Naledi 1999 Stellenbosch Cab that was $3.99 a bottle back around 2004 or so? I still have some of that, drinking nicely.

        Reply
        1. Darrell

          SB, I am afraid I wasn’t shipping GO wines then since I associated them with Rainbow Foods where I hadn’t found good wines. I managed to get a 10% discount on the 2003 Le Riche which made the bottle $1.80 per, but with the failures, the real cost is more like $2.40 per bottle plus cooking wine.

          Reply
  6. seedboy

    The red wines from Stellenbosch I’ve tasted have generally had a minty quality in addition to the earthiness, and, yes, less fruit than a New World wine. Any of that mint in this? Would the bell pepper be close enough? It sounds like I would like this wine, which I passed by during the sale

    Reply
    1. BargainWhine Post author

      Hi Seedboy. I didn’t note it as such, but the back label, which I found to be pretty much accurate, describes “whiffs of mint and cedar,” so maybe it’s worth a try.

      Reply

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