Our 2015 Merlot has aromas of blackberry, black cherry, and chocolate with flavors of cherry, spice and vanilla. The tannins are well-integrated giving this wine balanced structure, and the spice note lingers through the long finish.
Pairs well with soft blue-veined cheeses, braised beef, and roasted chicken dishes.
It was the dream of a young Dutch immigrant to grow quality grapes and produce truly outstanding wines. After his arrival in the United States shortly after World War II, John Van Ruiten Sr. settled in the Lodi area. His desire to own was quickly realized when in the early 1950’s, and with his personal “sweat equity,” John bought his first vineyard property. He then planted Zinfandel vines and began growing wine grapes in the Lodi Appellation.
The Van Ruitens believe that hard work and an uncompromising commitment to producing top quality grapes and award-winning wines are the cornerstones of their business.
Five decades later, the Van Ruitens farm over 800 acres of wine grapes, with only their optimum fruit destined to carry the family name. After more than fifty years, their ambition became a reality, as the Van Ruiten Family Winery was built just prior to the 2000 harvest. Two generations of the Van Ruiten family now work together to tend the vineyards and manage the winery.
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@MarkDaSpark I’m pretty sure I mentioned it as one of the places Brad recommenced and I’d considered but the timing didn’t work out for some reason I can’t remember. If we do Lodi again VR is a strong candidate as a replacement for a place or two that didn’t exceed expectations.
I asked – ‘What’s this unusual email in my inbox – LAB RAT Wine is coming your way – SPAM?’ but wait the circuits kick in and I am arm pumping a like Cleveland BROWNS fan for my first WIN!
The package is hand delivered by the mail person directly upon arrival with a wise crack of how their back is much better as my ordering from formerly WOOT Wine and Casemates has dwindled like my waistline. Now the rest of the story.
This is my first time being a LAB RAT! I hand carry the precious cargo home and allow it to rest a day. The time of reckoning has come and I use my cutter for the wrap and rabbit to uncork.
Now what I’m about say is the truth and nothing but the truth! Unlike the big handed, orange puffer fish grab them by the (rhymes with wussy) and there was NO COLLUSION but don’t look over here guy. You can always follow him on TWEETER or is that twitter – #TWIT.
Last preface – I’m hoping other LAB RATs opine and their findings counter mine.
Upon uncorking – sniff of cork and bottle leaves me unimpressed. No heat detected and subdued aroma. On first pour medium purple color and slight aeration by swishing glass shows good viscosity. Yet, still muted aroma, flat with lifeless flavors and not much heat.
Not to be deterred and when confounded, decant, Decant, DECANT!
Here I sit writing what feels like an epitaph to a short-lived lab rat life after a 6+ hour decant.
I call over the college kyds who are home for the holidays and ask they pronounce their findings as to smell, color and taste.
Big mistake as it was not a crystalized, red haired sticky purple haze kush bud which they would have no problem writing a dissertation on.
Instead I got “smells like wine, looks like wine and tastes like wine but I really don’t drink wine.” Picture me as Charlie Brown as I listened to their profound insight.
Yet again I digressed from my lab rat duties. So I take out the cheese parmigiana reggiano and gorgonzola.
I pour again and cleanse the palate with Reggiano. On smell still nothing stands out – stewed plum maybe. Taste has some life feel a hint of heat look at bottle reads (13.6% ALC by vol) on point for Merlot. Hint of green pepper and tannins leaving semi watery finish in mouth.
I reset palate with Gorgonzola. Taste has more life, less tannin berry (Raspberry?) and salivated mouth finish.
Palate reset with unsalted mixed nuts again tasting green pepper, berry (cherry, raspberry) and drier tannin finish but not like a Malbec or Syrah.
Finished with an organic fair trade pure dark chocolate 70% my apologies in case there is a snowflake in the crowd offended by this or the orange puffer fish reference because remember I tell the truth and nothing but the truth.
Upon puckering it with air as though a sommelier in training, the wine has some taste. Decanting did help!
I conclude that perhaps one should pair this with all the usual suspects for red wine and perhaps a hearty RED meat to double tap that heart of yours.
I include a picture of cork I’m not saying my bottle was a corked bottle but am willing to say this 2015 wine should not be past its prime.
However, IMHO, it felt like its life was over straight out of the corkage. While better after decanting, it did not wow me to a standing rattage of buy. Perhaps hold until other RATS report. Now you know the REST OF THE STORY! I’m not Paul Harvey so good day!
Hi, guys! Another lab rat here with my assessment and honest opinion.
For reference, my favorite is a big, smack-you-around-and-call-you-names Cab. I also loves me a nice Pinot Noir & Malbec, and I don’t like Zin at all. Merlots don’t offend me.
Now, I don’t have a great wine vocabulary, but the more I drink it, the more I’m starting to glean onto what you guys are talking about. I think the word I’m looking for is “approachable”. I would say that we clicked immediately, became good buddies quickly, and it invited me to hang out and watch the hockey game.
I de-corked the bottle, gave it a sniff, then let it sit on the counter for about 20 minutes while we ate. The interwebs told me that Merlot doesn’t really pair well with a combination pizza, and the interwebs are usually right about my pairing decisions. So, we ended up drinking this sans-food.
Upon de-corking, I noted an intense red color with a tinge of purple. I got a little caught up in aromas of vanilla and fresh raspberries. OMG - this was nice! I was a little afraid that it was going to be really sweet just from the nose.
Turns out that it was fruity but not horribly sweet with some tannins that I can only describe as “round”. They were there, but they were soft, and I could drink this almost immediately. I noted a lot of fresh raspberry and vanilla with tinge of savory spices (pepper?) on the tongue, and the finish brought out some really nice dark chocolate. My husband thought blackberry and dark chocolate on the finish.
An hour later, the spices and vanilla gave way to more fruit. The tannis took a bit of a backseat, and I found cherry in the mix and more berries - raspberries, blackberries, maybe a tiny bit of currant. The finish wasn’t horribly long, but that chocolate note kept getting better (and better, and better).
All-in-all, I thought this was a very nice wine. It’s very, very drinkable, and it’d be equally at home at a dinner party or just hanging out on the couch.
Thanks for the rattage opportunity, Casemates! Y’all are sneakingly getting me to drink more wine.
That’s not a bad thing at all. And if you want the TL;DR version - I thought this was really nice, and I’m in for a few bottles.
Based on the other rattage reporting in for 3. As I said, I had hoped other RATS would counter my experience. I will be decanting and double tapping with a hearty red meat because I BRAKE for grapes and believe in 2nd chances!