If a domestic red wine is labeled with the trademarked name Meritage, it must be a blend of at least two specific “noble” grape varieties found in France’s Bordeaux region. These include cabernet sauvignon, merlot, cabernet franc, malbec and petit verdot. There are also some domestic wines labeled claret, which is a traditional term used for red Bordeaux wines in Britain. However, there are no restrictions to using the term claret in the U.S., so these wines may contain nonallowed Bordeaux grapes.
Hogue Cellars 2014 Genesis Meritage, Columbia Valley, Washington Bought • Friar Tuck Beverage, 9053 Watson Road, in August for $11.99
Description • Although malbec usually plays a subordinate role in Bordeaux wines, this grape variety makes up almost half of this blend followed by 25 percent cabernet sauvignon and lesser amounts of petit verdot and merlot. The result is a medium-bodied, bold and smoky red that has an inviting aroma of cedar and leather. This is an elegant, complex red that tastes of dark cherries and plums with spice from oak aging. A flavorful red with firm tannins, it would go well with grilled steak.
Guenoc Winery 2014 Victorian Claret, North Coast, CaliforniaBought • Friar Tuck Beverage, 9053 Watson Road, in August for $10.99
Description • The label on this claret features a portrait of Lillie Langtry, the Victorian actress who became a vintner in 1888, planting vines in the Guenoc Valley, located about 60 miles north of San Francisco. A blend of 70 percent merlot with small amounts of petite sirah, petit verdot and cabernet sauvignon, it’s a little earthy and tastes of dark fruit. This is a good, easy-to-drink, everyday red that has gentle tannins and good acidity. It would go well with both burgers and roast chicken.