Giving Merlot a GOOD name

Fast facts:

  • 2014 Franciscan Napa Valley Merlot $8.99 (@Costco; California)

So often, plumbing the shelves, bins and pallets of mega wine retailers for extreme value wines yields brands/labels we’ve never heard of. This recent wine find from Costco is an exception…

Speaking of exceptions, there were several clues that suggested that this bottle could be, well, an exceptional value:

1. Known producer (Franciscan Estate)
2. Right appellation- Napa!
3. Right grape – Merlot (I don’t care what Miles said in the film Sideways!)
4. “Right” vintage – meaning not too old as California rarely has “bad vintages”
5. Right price:

I love it when Costco provides an “instant savings” at the register and gets the price below the $10 threshold we enjoy so much.

There is one other thing you see on this price flyer that is an interesting thing to know. See that asterisk in the upper right hand corner? This means that this wine is an “in and out item.”  In other words, when it’s gone, it’s gone and Costco is not planning to restock it.  So if this wine interests you, don’t delay in buying some.

The back label makes reference to grapes from “our estate vineyards and other cooler vineyards of Napa Valley” and you can taste the cooler part. Instead of the fleshy, flabby Merlots that have given the variety a bit of a bad rep in the USA, this wine is stylishly restrained and in a word: elegant.

In Bordeaux, the world famous right bank wines of St Emilion are predominantly Merlot  and this wine riffs on that legacy. It has more in common with its French cousins than its California neighbors. It would pair really well with grilled Salmon, which is why I pulled the cork on this elixir of red plum, black cherry and just a touch of oak. It’s what’s for dinner here.


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