2021 Oyster River Winegrowers Red
Region: Maine < USA
Grapes: MerlotVineyard/Cellar Stats: Certified organic farming, white clay and limestone soil with a lot of flint, 50-year-old vines, hand harvested, no added SO2; zero-zero; 10.5% ABV; 300 cases
Winemaker: Brian Smith
We're SIX vintages in with Oyster River's charming Pet'Nat, the fan fave Morphos, so safe to say we're fans of Maine-native Brian Smith's work. But this red is our first foray into his still wines, and we're hooked: soft and juicy, low in alcohol (10.5%) and full of life, this zero-zero Merlot was a delightful surprise. Brian, who makes cider with local apples as well as wine with native American grapes that he farms and purchased organic Merlot from a friend on Long Island's North Fork, lets this wine ferment slowly in his naturally cool barn over several months. His sums up his hands-off ethos: “I believe my role in the winemaking process to be more nature’s assistant than winemaker. We add nothing and take nothing away from the natural chemistry of the fruit.”
Forgot what you think about Merlot, if you even think of it after Sideways killed it, and try this wine. Light and bright, with sour cherry, tart red fruit and a pleasant earthiness, this isn't the green, spicy, heavy Merlot that gets a bad rap. Instead it's the perfect chillable red for pizza, burgers, apps or nothing but friends and a smile.
SERVE SLIGHTLY CHILLED