Taste: What to Drink August 2006

St. Francis “Behler Reserve” Merlot 2002, Sonoma County

St. Francis is renowned for its inky, muscular red wines, and this beauty


St. Francis is renowned for its inky, muscular red wines, and this beauty is no exception. Merlot undeniably ranks among the top red-wine grapes of all time, yet it has suffered great indignities lately, including being maligned as wimpy and passé in Sideways. True, merlot’s previous popularity drove the grape’s prices sky-high, tempting wineries to overcrop. But deep, concentrated and rich merlots like this do exist; they’re just not usually so fairly priced. This month, this top-notch wine (don’t let the synthetic cork fool you) is offered in Pennsylvania state stores at a Chairman’s Selection discount of almost 75 percent. Try it with a juicy backyard burger, or venison with a red-wine reduction.