Michael says everyone should have dark chocolate on their burgers.
Yes, I said dark chocolate on your burger. Half of you groaned with thoughts of pleasure while the other half think I’m nuts. I guess you will have to try it.
We are kicking off the #MerlotMe season with 2 wines from Rutherford Hill and a decadent burger recipe.
#MerlotMe is the annual one-month celebration of this iconic grape that was so maligned by Miles. (I mean, yes, Pinot is lovely, he had that right, but the dude was a mess, and his rage on Merlot was more about losing a book deal than about the wine itself!)
We celebrate #MerlotMe with the gang at #WinePW and will continue to celebrate the rest of October, so watch for more tasty Merlots coming up! Jeff at FoodWineClick is leading us this month and you can check out his preview post here!
You can join the #WinePW gang to discuss all things Merlot on Saturday, October 6th at 8 am Pacific time on Twitter. Just follow and use the hashtag #WinePW. If you scroll to the bottom of this post, you will find links to all of my colleagues’ articles!
**These wines were received as media samples. All opinions remain our own.
These two wines came to us from Rutherford Hill in Napa. They founded this winery in 1972 in Napa’s youth. This spot on the hill in Rutherford that they found seemed to have a similar climate and soil type to Pomerol, the small French region on the right bank known for it’s Merlots. So, they planted Merlot and made it their flagship. To this day 75% of their production is of this lush and delicious grape.
They are now owned by the Terlato family, who purchased the winery and vineyards in 1996. They continued the Rutherford Hill devotion to quality and to that end hired winemaker Marisa Taylor.
Marisa grew up visiting the vineyards where her godfather worked as a vineyard manager. She was destined for this industry. She studies at Santa Rosa and UC Davis before honing her skills at multiple wineries in the Napa Valley and beyond. Today she is the General Manager and Head Winemaker at Rutherford Hill.
Rutherford Hill 2019 Napa Valley Merlot
77% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Cabernet Franc, 2% Petit Verdot, 2% Syrah
70% comes from estate fruit from their vineyards in Rutherford, Oak Knoll and Pope Valley. After fermenting in stainless steel with pump overs it finishes its secondary fermentation in barrels and tanks, then this wine spends 18 month in French oak.
14.5% abv – $35 SRP
With my nose in the glass I got Boysenberry, blackberry, black tea and pencil lead. There was a bit of spice and vanilla in the background. When I put it in my mouth it was juicy, like fresh blackberry juice. Boysenberry and now blueberry notes came up as well as tea and spice. This wine is still really young and will evolve with a bit of cellar aging.
Rutherford Hill 2018 Oakville Merlot
This Merlot comes specifically from the Oakville appellation in Napa Valley. This AVA has has 3 types of soils: residual soils from the breakdown of bedrock, alluvial soils washed down from the hillsides and fluvial soils from the Napa River. The micro climate here tends to be a little cooler than Rutherford that sits just north of it and as such slightly further from those cool breezes coming from San Pablo Bay.
94% Merlot, 5% Petit Verdot, 2% Cabernet Sauvignon
This wine spends 20% in 40% new French Oak.
15% abv – $62 SRP
This wine was deeper and richer than the first. On the nose I got blackberry jam, black cherry compote, dark chocolate and violet, with secondary notes of graphite and cedar forest. In my mouth there was boysenberry again then blackberry juice and wet stone.
This wine was so complex in the glass. It was fuller than the other wine, without being heavy.
What to pair?
A couple of nights ago I met Mike at work. I’m new at “O” and the crew is great. Mike introduced himself while we waited for the roof to float offstage*, and commented that he was hungry and craving a burger, and of course, once he said that, so was I.
*Don’t know what I’m talking about? Well then you probably need to get yourself to Vegas to see “O”.
So for my Monday off, I was determined to have a burger. Lucky for me we were doing this Merlot tasting and I knew an elevated burger would be great with these wines.
Elevated burgers can go so many different ways. I wanted to add flavors that would compliment and contrast with the wine. I settled on adding blue cheese to the top of the burger, bacon, a sauce of blackberry & blueberry jam made savory with soy and worchestershire sauce, arugula for a peppery notes and shaved dark chocolate.
I know, I know, we are back to the dark chocolate. I was thinking back to a dinner we had at a great restaurant here in town (Honey Salt). I ordered a caprese salad and they asked if I would like shaved chocolate with that. How could I say no? So I tried it and it worked! It works even better here. Michael may never eat a burger without dark chocolate again. Scroll down for the recipe!
We also picked up one of those mixed flavor cheese cakes, with strawberry swirl, chocolate, chocolate swirl and plain. We ate more than one slice, the cake was small, don’t judge! We were surprised that our favorite with the wine was the strawberry swirl, not that the chocolate swirl was bad, just that the strawberry swirl paired better.
#WinePW on #MerlotMe
The #WinePW team will be tasting and pairing Merlots all month! But below you can find the links to our initial pieces!
We hope you will join us on Saturday, November 6th on Twitter as we discuss these beautiful wines and our pairings. Just hop on Twitter at 8 am Pacific or 11 am Eastern and follow and use the hashtags #WinePW and #MerlotMe to join the conversation!
- 2012 Ridge Estate Merlot + Reverse Sear Ribeye Steak by ENOFYLZ Wine Blog
- California Dreamin’ for #MerlotMe Month by My Full Wine Glass
- Celebrate #MerlotMe with a Wine that Hits the Mark by Supporting Veterans by Exploring the Wine Glass
- Experiments with Salmon and Merlot by Somm’s Table
- Ground Beef and Kale Recipe with #MerlotMe Wine by Cooking Chat
- I Melt for Merlot and Chocolate by What’s in That Bottle?
- Merguez Sausages and a Debut #MerlotMe Wine from Gürbüz by The Quirky Cork
- #MerlotMe and Meaty Asian Sandwich by Chinese Food & Wine Pairings
- Mushroom Madness Paired with Merlot by Always Ravenous
- October Means #MerlotMe Paired with Instant Pot Bacon Mushroom Merlot Chicken by Wine Predator……..Gwendolyn Alley
- One of the Oldest Foods on Earth + 2019 Bonterra Organic Merlot by Culinary Adventures with Camilla
- Tri-Tip Steak and Duckhorn, a #MerlotMe Classic by Food Wine Click!
- Won’t you please #MerlotMe? by A Day in the Life on the Farm
- Bonterra and Creamy Lasagna Soup #MerlotMe by Our Good Life
- Merlot with Chicken in a Mushroom Wine Sauce by Vino Travels
Sometimes you are craving a burger, but you need it to be a little more elegant and elevated. This burger will do the trick, with blue cheese, bacon and easy savory berry sauce, arugula, and dark chocolate shavings (yes, I said dark chocolate), you will have a perfect pairing to go with a delicious Merlot!
- 1.5 lbs 80/20 ground chuck
- Canola oil
- Gorgonzola cheese
- 3 tbs Blackberry blueberry jam
- 1 tsp Soy sauce
- ½ tsp Worchestershire sauce
- 2 slices of Bacon sliced into 4 pieces and cooked until crisp
- ½ cup fresh Arugula
- 4 tablespoons of 90% cacao chocolate shaved
- 4 Brioche hamburger buns
- 2 tbs Mayo
- Shape the beef into 4 burgers and put a thumbprint in each (this helps them to cook evenly). Season with salt and pepper
- Heat 2 tablespoons of canola oil in a rod iron skillet. Cook the burgers for 3 minutes for the first side, then flip and cook 4 minutes on the 2nd side (for medium-rare) Based on Bobby Flays burger recipe
- Remove from the pan and flip, putting the blue cheese in the divot from your thumbprint.
- Mix the berry jam with soy and Worcestershire sauces.
- Put a bit of mayo on the bottom bun, add the burger with cheese
- Add the bacon on top of the blue cheese, add arugula, drizzle on the berry sauce, and top with shaved chocolate
Amount Per Serving Calories 594Total Fat 35gSaturated Fat 14gTrans Fat 1gUnsaturated Fat 19gCholesterol 148mgSodium 828mgCarbohydrates 48gFiber 4gSugar 10gProtein 21g
Nutrition information isn’t always accurate.
More on Merlot from Crushed Grape Chronicles
Robin Renken is a wine writer and Certified Specialist of Wine. She and her husband Michael travel to wine regions interviewing vineyard owners and winemakers and learning the stories behind the glass.
When not traveling they indulge in cooking and pairing wines with food at home in Las Vegas.