Nickel & Nickel Suscol Ranch Merlot


It’s time to reacquaint ourselves with Merlot and shatter the stereotypes and negative connotations surrounding this awesome grape. I was hoping that the excellent Nickel & Nickel would be able to tear down my own personal walls regarding Merlot; however I don’t think I’m quite there yet.  I’m not head over heels about this particular Merlot, even though it is by a very well respected producer; I will say this though, it is an excellent wine.           

This wine has a beautifully bright and intense ruby color with just a slight touch of brick. There is a hint of amber around the rim showing its age of about 5 years old. The nose of this wine is awesome.  It’s very aromatic with notes of dark red fruit like black cherries; also present are raspberry and blackberry elements that give this wine a delicious smell. I can detect a hint of bramble or a neutral forest floor element mixed with some old wood and pepper spice elements.

When I tasted this wine I was taken aback by its intense sharpness. The raspberry slaps me in the face along with the hotness of the alcohol. 

Once I got past the heat, I was able to detect some nice flavors of cedar and white flowers. The same neutral, dusty, forest floor elements presented themselves in the background as well.The nice thing about the flavor of this wine is that it has a very neat and clean finish; the flavors explode in your mouth all at once and then die away very quickly.  There is no sticky, dry mouth leftover from excess tannins.

The overall thought that persisted when drinking this wine was that it needs food- badly. It’s a bit too intense to drink by itself, especially if it’s by a beginning wine drinker trying Merlot for the first time. It is not what I was expecting to be sure. Food pairings that immediately came to my mind were herb-crusted filet of salmon or grilled pork chop with a hint of rosemary and allspice. Since I didn’t have either one of these options at hand, I brought out some very sharp vintage Dubliner cow’s milk cheese to pair with it. What a difference that made! The sharpness of the cheese did an excellent job of neutralizing the wine’s pointed, sharp qualities. The fruit aspect became much more pronounced and gentle. Overall the wine fared much better with food

All in all, this wine needs food; I can’t emphasize it enough.If you were pairing this wine with food, I would give this wine an 8 out of 10, however without food I could only give it a 5-6 based on its out of balance sharpness and hotness. For now though, I shall continue the search for the Merlot that will enlighten me and change my mind on Merlot for good. Until next time,



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