We went through the official taste test. We checked the age, color, legs, nose and then finally the taste. Both wines are still relatively young and should age well. There are a number of similarities in the wines - particularly in the scent. We picked out a fair amount of oak, pepper and berries in both wines. The taste is where we noticed the big difference - the Cabernet was full of body and a medium dry wine, while the Merlot came across as being a little sweet and a bit thin. When we finished the official review, we all looked at each other and agreed that the Cabernet Sauvignon was a better buy even though it cost a bit more.
Being an "everyday wine guy," I could not have an official recommendation based solely on the small tasting samples. Here is really how I pick my favorite wines: When given a choice, which wine would I want to drink first? In this case, we continued with our night and I left both bottles on the counter and let everyone pour their own drinks. Here is the interesting part - of the four of us, three immediately polished off the Merlot bottle leaving Mike, The Everyday Wine Snob, as the only one drinking the Cabernet Sauvignon. I asked the wives why they started with the Merlot and both responded that they found it to be a smooth and more balanced wine. This is exactly what I look for in a wine.
Ultimately, which of the two wines would I suggest bringing as a gift? If you are going to give it to someone who is a wine connoisseur, then splurge for the Cabernet Sauvignon. However, if you are going to a friend's house and want to have an easy to drink wine that will lead to good times - then reach for the Merlot. That's the wine that I liked best and I hope you do too.
Incidentally, one of the reasons I like St. Clement winery is that it reminds me of old times. Much like people in Danville who read local newspapers and support small businesses, St. Clement is more of a boutique winery with a local following. In fact, the 2005 St. Clement Merlot comes from a production of under 4,000 cases. There is nothing better than bringing a nice wine as a gift that has a unique feel to it.
After all of my red wine reviews it is time for a white wine. Next time we will look at the 2007 Chateau St. Jean Chardonnay ($14). Until then, cheers!
Don Colman, the Everyday Wine Guy, lives in Danville and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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