WhitemerlotWhat do you think about if someone mentions "white merlot"? For me, it’s sickly sweet blush made by Forest Glen or Beringer that comes mind. Not exactly a pleasant thought.

Given that, I hope that the fine folks at Lieb Cellars can forgive me if that is where my brain went when I heard they were making a white merlot in 2007. I didn’t love their rose last year and I didn’t think I’d love this wine either. (Note: They made a rose in addition to this wine in 2007).

This is the whitest of any white merlot I’ve ever seen — it’s pale even by white wine standards. Nena actually thought I was rinsing my glass with water in between samples. But with the first sniff, this wine reveals its origins — 90% merlot and 10% sauvignon blanc. Light cherry aromas mingle with lemony grapefruit notes and just a touch of lemongrass.

It’s dry, medium bodied and refreshingly crisp. It’s a little less interesting on the palate, showing mostly cherry and lemon, but the merlot brings a certain breadth and a gentle roundess that makes it mouthfilling without being a ‘big’ wine.

The first time I tasted it, blind, I wasn’t quite sure what I thought. It tasted good, but was it just a novelty wine? What ‘category’ if any does it belong in?

But tasting it again, I realized that none of that matters. Yes, it’s intriguing for its uniqueness. But, it also transcends its quirky no-skin contact red wine-ness. I’ve enjoyed a few more bottles since that first one, and I’ll be enjoying it again.

Rumor has it that they are planning to devote a lot more of their merlot to this wine in 2008. It’s surprisingly easy to see why.

Grape(s): 90% merlot, 10% sauvignon blanc
Lieb Cellars
AVA: North Fork of Long Island
Price: $15
Rating: 30
 (3 out of 5 | Recommended)

(About LENNDEVOURS’ Ratings)