Misunderstood Merlot

It’s taken four years, but a moviemaker has finally come up with a filmic rebuttal to the famous Sideways Merlot dis. In Merlove, Rudolf N. McClain’s documentary, the history and lore of Merlot are lovingly explored, experts who adore it are interviewed, and the wine is even animated as a cute little bottle that’s forced to spill its fine contents into a sea of mediocre wine.

Merlot, says McClain, is ready to be loved again. “Merlot is good and no single variety can be singled out as good or bad,” he tells the Chicago Tribune. He admits that a lot of lousy Merlots got made when the wine was at its peak of popularity, and perhaps it deserved to bottom out. “But,” he adds, “when a fire comes through the forest, out of the destruction there’s opportunity for new growth.”

Although the varietal lost some of its cool factor after Sideways, Merlot is still the second-most-purchased wine in the United States. McClain travels to France, where Merlot is the most-planted grape, and interviews Jean-Claude Berrouet, the former head winemaker at Chateau Petrus, where he learns about what makes a great Merlot.

Merlove will screen at Copia in the Napa Valley on September 5.

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