Monster Vineyards Merlot 2009, BC VQA Okanagan Valley $19.90
Premier wineries often create a second label to market products that don’t quite make it into their top tier, but still offer fine quality and great value. That’s the case with the “Monster” line from Poplar Grove, the boutique winery on the Naramata Bench.
This Monster Merlot blend costs a third less than its top-tier sibling, but displays similar juiciness, with lots of cassis aromas, ripe red-fruit flavours and a spicy kick.
The percentage blend is 85-14-1 of Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon respectively.
It becomes a refreshing summer red when you chill it; how cool depends on your taste.
(Too warm? Drop it briefly into an ice bucket. Too cold? Leave it on the table a few minutes.)
Grilled flank steak, rack of lamb, and a pulled-pork sandwich all gain new flavour dimensions alongside a bottle of Monster Merlot.
So does most seafood: salmon, scallops, spot prawns. Like Cabernet, Merlot is usually too bold for light, delicate dishes.
Available at VQA and private wine shops.
Kasey Wilson is food editor of Wine Access magazine and editor of Best Places Vancouver.