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Nov 26, 2007 09:05 PM

Wine to go with the Le Vin aromas kit?

I'm hoping one of you chowhounds can help me with this.

I've purchased as a gift the Le Vin red wine kit, I'd like to give it along with a bottle wine. I myself am not very knowledgeable about wine. The gift recipient likes Merlots from California. I'd like to spend about $30 on the bottle.

Short of telling me to go to a mom & pop wine shop to ask them, do you have any recommendations?

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  1. I was rather struck by the Pride Mountain 2005 Merlot over the weekend. Merlot rarely moves me and this one did. Darn it, I just looked up the price for's about $50, so it's a little more than what you wanted to spend.

    2 Replies
    1. re: maria lorraine

      Pride is a good choice. Pahlmeyer and Duckhorn are also good choices in about the same price range. For a few bucks MORE, the Beringer Howell Mtn. Bancroft Ranch is well worth the $. Now that we've spent over your budget, let me make a less expensive rec.

      If you can find it, the Glen Carlou (RSA) Grand Classique is a very complex Bdx. blend and something, in which, they can find all sorts of nuances, along with the kit. It'll cost you about half your budget, but it's the best deal that I've found in many years.

      Sounds like a great gift,

      1. re: Bill Hunt

        Thanks everyone for the suggestions. I feel better armed to hit the wine shop... I'll report back with what I get.

    2. The problem is that there are a number of small producers who make truly excellent Merlots in California, and a lot of producers that make so-so Merlot. But some of these small producers (most? all?) may not be available where you live. This is the primary reason to suggest checking with your local merchant: I have no idea where you live; why recommend wines you cannot find?

      Storrs Merlot, San Ysidro District -- if you can find it.

      4 Replies
        1. re: LMelba

          You may be able to find Storrs in LA.

          Also, the selection of a Washington Merlot is a great one -- I, too, find *most* Washington State Merlots to be better than *most* California Merlots, all else being equal. Delille Cellars does NOT make a "straight" Merlot, but wineries like Waterbrook, L'Ecole No. 41, Northstar and others do and they are well worth seeking out.

          1. re: zin1953

            L'Ecole No. 41 wines should be readily available, are great, and should be well within the pricerange you set...

            1. re: domaine547

              I take back in part my suggestion of the Delille, though I like their wines, because you're right that they don't do a straight Merlot. If I were giving a gift to go along with a Nez du Vin set, I'd be looking for something single varietal and as varietally "typical" as you could find, so you can use the wine to "play along" and try to match the aromas.

              Unfortunately I don't drink enough Merlot to tell you what is varietally typical.

      1. I find Washington State Merlots to generally be better than most California ones I've had, and if your recipient likes CA Merlot, it's often fun to stretch someone's comfort zone just a little and get them something similar to what they already know they like.

        Widely available and pretty reliable (and probably sure to make the wine snobs sneer) is Columbia Crest. Their "Reserve" is around the price point you're looking at, though not as widely available as the $10-11 "Grand Estates" (probably a little more pedestrian than what you're looking for in a gift).

        Novelty Hill also does good WA merlots though not nearly as large production or as widely distributed.
        Delille also does some very nice blends though I'm not sure they make a straight merlot. The D2 is a cab/merlot/+ blend and a very nice wine for around $40.