Kimmel Merlot
Kimmel Merlot


y wife Teri and I have had a busy week or two so we have been eating a lot of simple meals or leftovers. We like leftovers, so that’s OK, but what we really like to do is turn them into a special meal by adding a big bottle of wine.

While I was thinking about what wine to open Wednesday I got a call from an old friend, Alex Heck of Wine Direct Selections in California. He asked about a wine he sold me a couple of months ago, Kimmel Merlot. I hadn’t tried it yet, and Alex was going on about what a great wine it is.

Now Alex is a salesman, so you might think, of course he raved about the wine. But the thing about Alex is in the 15 years or so that I’ve been buying wine from him, he’s never sent me a bad wine. He knows my tastes and always comes up with incredible wines at good prices. So I figured I had better open one of those Kimmel bottles.

Kimmel Merlot
Kimmel Merlot

The 2009 Kimmel Merlot was another in the long line of winners from Alex. I opened it early and decanted it. As soon as I popped the cork, the kitchen started to fill with intense fruit aromas.

We let the wine sit in the decanter for about 30 minutes, and I should have waited an hour. The wine is dense, packed with layers of flavor. It’s a dark blood red, with tinges of purple along the edges.

The beautiful aroma leads to rich flavors of black cherry, plum and a touch of chocolate. The wine is still a bit closed and needs time to open. The longer we drank the wine the better it tasted.

The Kimmel Merlot cost $35 and is worth every penny. It’s a rich, full, structured wine, loaded with fruit flavors that are nicely balanced with tannins and acidity. The wine spent 21 months in a combination of new and used French oak barrels. It’s drinking wonderfully now, but I’m going to try to keep a couple of bottles for another 2-3 years to see if it develops further.

Pizza and Kimmel Merlot.
Pizza and Kimmel Merlot.
We had it with leftover pizza from my favorite deep-dish Chicago pizza place, Lou Malnati’s, and from my favorite Augusta pizza place, Giuseppe’s. We also had some pulled pork and a few veggies, so this really did turn into a special meal.

The wine was a perfect match for the food, with the mellow fruit standing up well to the tomato sauce on the pizza and the barbecue sauce on the pork. The wine has good acidity and will match well to all kinds of food from beef Burgundy to duck to pasta.

I don’t really know the Kimmel winery, but their website says the family has been living on Kimmel Ranch in Mendocino County for nearly 50 years. The operation is led by matriarch Lillian and includes her three sons, Jim, Gary and Dennis.

The land includes 1,100 acres in Potter Valley, with grapevines planted at about 1,000 feet elevation. Chardonnay vines were planted in 1986, and other varieties followed. At first the Kimmels sold their grapes, but in 2007 they formed Kimmel Vineyards and produced their first wine, a Chardonnay. Kimmel grows Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petite Sirah and Malbec.

The winery specializes in Chardonnay and Merlot.

From: Mendocino County

Purchased: Wine Direct Selections

Cost: $35

Year: 2009

1 Comment

  1. With the 2009 vintage, that spectrum includes everything from red berries to black olive, and from cassis to toasted almonds. We love it with pizza, but we can think of about, oh, a hundred other dishes that also would pair very nicely.

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