OK, so when I started this page, I surveyed those who were already following it, and the consensus was that as well as the wines that fit my theme of ‘Great Wines’ you wanted to hear about the ones that were ‘misses’ if you like, or ‘duds’ perhaps.
So anyway, I’ve been exploring new territories looking for new great wines, and a question arose in me.
Back in the year 2004 I watched the infamous movie ‘Sideways’ at the Stafford Cinema, and went straight out from the cinema to the Wine Store at Lutwyche and bought what is still one of the best Pinot Noirs I’ve ever had, the Scotchman’s Hill Pinot Noir from Geelong in Victoria, Australia.
Subsequent to the movie Sideways, Pinot Noir that was the hero of the movie enjoyed a ‘Hey Day’ that continues to this day, from being a fringe dweller when I was growing up, that was rarely done well.
Well the villain in the movie Sideways, apart from the Misogynistic cheating ‘groom to be’ who cheated with and lied to the character played by the awesome Sandra Oh, is the Merlot Grape.
The Groom’s best man is played brilliantly by Paul Giamatti who offers a brilliant portrayal of a wine snob suffering from deep depression, who takes the groom on a Bucks Weekend to Santa Barbara Wine Country.
There was one line in the movie in particular, along with several other slurs that has by my observation impacted the market for Merlot wines for a good 14 years since. This is when Paul Giamatti’s character says:
“No, if anyone orders Merlot I am leaving! I am not drinking any $uC&^ng Merlot”
I’ve got to admit, this film led me to develop a great love for the hero of the film, the Pinot Noir grape, and especially from Geelong, Mornington Peninsula, Tasmania, New Zealand, and the Willamette Valley and Oregon in the US.
Equally I’ll admit it has fuelled a bias against Merlot, and even after some of my peak wine experiences were of Merlots, and most especially at Hollicks Winery in the Coonawarra in early 2003 where I tasted and then bought a most extraordinary Show Reserve for about $40 (15 years ago), and where I got a taste for Sparkling Merlot that has never dissipated to this day.
So I was looking around Dan Murphy’s the other day, and I had the thought arise, “Is it time to challenge the bias that was planted in me by the movie ‘Sideways’ against Merlots?”
I found the very small selection of straight Merlots. I bought a Riddoch Coonawarra 2016 Merlot, that came with a staff member recommendation for $AUD 14.60, and a Leconfield Coonawarra 2017 Merlot for $AUD 19.90. Whilst both of these wines were from the Coonawarra where my peak experiences with the Hollicks Merlot occured, I can tell you that for me, these experiences left me where Paul Giamatti’s character ‘Miles’ was, or in other words “If anyone orders the Merlot, I’m leaving”. I have two half bottles in the fridge to use as cooking wine.
It can be a beautiful grape, and I will continue my search for one like the Hollicks all those years ago that proves Miles wrong. It can be a great grape in a blend, but for now the search continues.
As to me having to drink disappointing wine in search of great wines for you, “You are welcome!”
Sideways – The Movie
The Movie Experience: 90/100 at the time, maybe 80/100 now
Value : You can rent Sideways on iTunes for $4.99 so 90/100
Ura P Auckland
Lover of Great Wines
Entrepreneur & Mentor
Benefactor of Dreams
- Sideways Preview Video via YouTube Movies under doctrine of Fair Use
- Sideways Wine Tasting Scene via Fox Searchlight Pictures under doctrine of Fair Use