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The 2001 River Heights Merlot has been dubbed the great wine with the non-descript label by the tasting panel. Perhaps, we have been a little easy on the label. We have never believed that one could or should drink a label or a price tag, but if there were ever a case for the preceding adage it is the River Height Merlot. Certainly, the wine's somewhat homely label doesn't prepare the taster for the wonderfully ripe, pure blackberry scents and flavors that leap from the glass of River Heights Merlot. Cedar and spice mingle with the fruit, and ripe tannins add backbone without the burn, making this Merlot perfect to drink now. Every mouthful provides hedonistic pleasure. Allow the 2001 River Height Merlot to breathe for a half hour or so for maximum pleasure. We enjoyed this wine best at high cellar temperature, about 65° F.
Versatility is the hallmark of the 2001 River Heights Merlot. This handsome Merlot pairs well with a wide variety of foods. We have enjoyed it with everything from chicken salad to tuna steak, with universal praise. Roasted or smoked meats, provolone cheese and tomato based sauces are some of our favorite accompaniments with the River Heights Merlot. Herb charged soups, salads, and vegetables provide other excellent pairings. Complex sauces are hardly lost on the River Heights Merlot either; so don't feel like you need to baby this wine. Enjoy!
River Heights Merlot is a tiny 3000 case production by the highly talented Jeff Runquist, chief winemaker for California's McManis Family Vineyards. Jeff specializes in fashioning superlative wines, especially Cabernet, Merlot, Syrah, and Zinfandel from small lots of old vines that grow along the confluence of the San Joaquin and Stanislaus Rivers in what is now recognized as the River Junction Appellation. This is one of central California's few relatively cool growing areas, possessing a number of microclimates perfect for California's top red varietals. Jeff Runquist's style of winemaking is simple: he conjures bold ripe flavors from physiologically ripe fruit and rounds them out with new oak and minimal intervention. Most of Jeff's wines are bottled unfiltered, testimony to his philosophy and the meticulous care and handling afforded the premium grapes he uses for his highly acclaimed wines. Hopefully, we will be able to procure more Runquist selections, before the world discovers them, so for now mum is the word. That means: Don't tell too many friends about these delicious wines just yet!
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