The Merlot Malay

The Merlot Malay

This story begins on a Tuesday morning after a terrible weekend with me thinking about ending my writing about wine, I was thinking who cares what I think, the answer no one!

Well, if you ever get the feeling no one cares miss, a car payment.

I get an e-mail from a professional friend who tells me he just met with a wine rep who has a hot new inexpensive wine called Rotation and would I take a bottle and write a review?  Wow, someone does listen to me, who knew!

So I went and purchased a bottle of Merlot, they also make a Chardonnay but I just don’t get along with white wines.

My research into Rotation has not revealed much of anything.  I found no website, which is really odd for a wine company.  The label on the bottle is very tame by wine standards.  I couldn’t find any information on the wine maker either Sam Jennings.

The name Rotation refers to the company using old, excuse me (Matured) wine, and blending with new fresh wine and I started to get a picture of what is going on.

So, I was thinking if this wine was great what would it be great in comparison to?  And if I was the only one who tried it how good would that be vs several people’s experience.

AH, wine tasting party, Merlot night at Griffy’s.  I started calling around and struck out.  No one was going to be around.

Well, there was me, and there was Josephine so undaunted we pushed forward. We were joined late in the evening by Josephine’s brother and girl friend.

Another wine in the tasting was Toad Hollow Merlot 2007.  If you have not heard of Toad Hollow please visit their website.  Toad Hollow was a joint venture of two friends “Dr. Toad “Todd Williams and “The Dancing Badger” Rodney Strong.  Rodney Strong, who was a professional Dancer, couldn’t see himself as an aging dancer but could see himself as an aging wine maker.  He is one of icons of the late 60’s early 70’s wine makers who made the American wine industry what it is today.   Please read his story it’s a great story, it’s an American story, and the antithesis of the Obama and OWS crowd.  They didn’t just build a company, they built an industry, and yes Mr. President they did it by themselves!

While I’m close to the subject may a suggest anyone interested in wine, read the book “Judgment of Paris” by George Taber.  This is a great book about the development of California Wine from the late 50’s to the mid 70’s.  The movie “Bottle Shock” which is a real wine term is loosely based on this book.  For me it’s been a great read, but remember I read a 349 page book on corks too!

The third entry was a Chateau Ste. Michelle 2009 Indian Wells Columbia Valley.  I’ve had this wine for about a month waiting for a good reason to open it.  Usually my good reason for opening a bottle of wine is because it’s here and I want to drink it.

I’ve written about Chateau Ste. Michelle wines before and I’m a fan.  This one is rated a 90 by Wine Spectator and a 92 by Wine Enthusiast.


Color, all three wines had  good color. The Rotation was the thinnest of the three but still respectable.  Both the Toad Hollow and Ste. Michelle were dark blue/ purple. Rotation was redder than merlot should be.

Nose, the Rotation and the Ste. Michelle had only a faint nose, rather disappointing.  The Toad Hollow had wonderful nose rich dark berries.  I enjoy sniffing the Toad Hollow as much at tasting. The nose of the Ste Michelle got better with time, the best way to enjoy this wine would be to open the day before and then drink.

Taste, here’s where the rubber meets the road; all three were good, the Rotation was the weakest, due to its youth, taste improved with chilling.  I was expecting a better showing from Ste. Michelle.  The wine differently improved after opening and the wine absolutely should be decantered for several hours before drinking. The Toad Hollow was great right out of the box and only got better, until it was gone.  It was the clear hands down favorite of the three.  Favor of red berries spice and vanilla.

Now the rule is for a tasting a wine is you should not want to know the price until after you decide if you like it or not.  But for information sakes here are the cost of the wines were; Rotation 9.99, Toad Hollow 12.99 and Chateau Ste. Michelle $17.99.

Bottom line is price is a poor barometer of a wine.  The taste of the inexpensive and most expensive was almost indistinguishable.  Nothing will replace research and experience in determining what the best wine is for you.

My search for the Great White wine continues, and white wine lovers are going to cringe,  I found a great Moscato  Linda Donna from Puglia, sweet as a coke, but on a warm Sunday, sitting in my back yard after doing my lawn, reading the paper, listening to Bocelli, this wine was a home run.  Yes, life is good.  I know at least 10 Chardonnay drinkers are weeping somewhere.

Remember when you drink wine, you taste a little of human history.

A bottle of good wine, like a good act, shines ever in the retrospect” — Robert Louis Stevenson


3 thoughts on “The Merlot Malay”

  1. HI, Thanks for your review of My Rotation Wines. Im Sam Jennings, Winemaker. Oddly enough I was a winemaker for St. Michelle in Washington State too lol. The wine is drinking very very well now, try a bottle again and I’m sure you will be impressed.
    Thanks again,

    1. Thank you Mr. Jennings for writing, I am honored you read my blog. I compare winemakers to musicians, they create stuff mostly using there minds, its amazing to me. I love wine. I’d be damned if I could tell you why. I don’t have a very educated palate, I’m trying to teach it by buying fruit at the supermarket and trying to remember what a raspberry tastes like compared to a blackberry. I don’t like wine speak. For me wine is a time travel machine. I drink the wine I’m in the place. For every hour I drink, there are several hours of reading and research. Fortunately, I can sometimes do both at the same time!

      You are the first winemaker I’ve ever talked to. So many questions on how you do what you do and why? Would you consider answering some of those questions and being the subject of an edition of Griffy on Wine? I could e-mail you the questions and you could answer or not at your leisure. Let me know.

      I will be picking up a couple of bottles of Rotation from my favorite wine shop and I’ll give a toast to the winemaker.

      The question is no longer if the glass is half empty or half full,
      the meaning is clear,
      you have room for more wine!


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