Reviews, Wine Reviews

Wine Review: Coppola Director’s Cut Merlot

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Not bad from the guy who directed Captain Eo…

Francis Ford Coppola isn’t exactly new to the world of wine (let’s be honest: he’s made more quality vintages in the last decade than movies), yet I am often met with skepticism when I suggest a Coppola wine to a customer. Their suspicions are understandable: it’s not usually a good sign when famous people choose to redirect their careers into ventures unrelated to what they’re known for, like when Eddie Murphy recorded that music album, or when Ronald Reagan decided to dabble in politics. However, not all celebrities should be condemned to the creative legacies they built during–and were consequently unable to sustain beyond–the 1970′s, and in the case of Coppola, some of them are even able to make a tasty wine here and there.

Enter the Coppola Director’s Cut Merlot. In spite of the obvious cash in on his cinematic notoriety, I’ve been consistently impressed by Coppola’s Director’s Cut line. I had the opportunity to try the Merlot at a recent tasting event, and what struck me right off the bat was the way this wine plays with your expectations.

Now, in spite of my defense of Coppola, I definitely had an a priori notion of what this wine would be like: lots of oak, rich, ripe berry fruit, smooth velvety tannins (you know: quality wine for the masses), and initially, the nose seemed to confirm this suspicion: the wine is heavily oaked, with lots of clove and allspice aromas and spicy plums I could smell from across the room. Then I took a sip, and…

Acid! Quite a bit of acid, actually, and plenty of red fruit: cherries, red currants, cranberries even, with a fairly light body for a Merlot. The tannins were there but they weren’t obtrusive, giving the wine structure but not bite. If the bottle hadn’t been right in front of me, I might have thought the wine was an import from Italy. With a little air, the nose started to more closely resemble the flavor of the wine itself, but right out of the bottle the wine throws you a real olfactory curve ball, and I like curve balls, especially in wine. All in all, the wine struck a nice balance of versatility, being sturdy enough to pair with a meal but also mellow enough to be enjoyed on it’s own over a friendly debate about which version of Apocalypse Now most effectively conveyed the madness of the Vietnam War.

It was a good reminder not to judge a wine solely by it’s bottle, even though the bottle puts a lot of effort in trying to influence you, for better or for worse. The very pairing of “Coppola” with the title “Director’s Cut” implies that the winemakers lack the confidence in their wine to sell itself without hearkening back to the glory days of The Godfather, but the more of his wine I try the more I think the association is unnecessary. Coppola has really stepped up the quality of his wine in recent years, and even without a label or a name, this bottle would stand tall under its own merits, with the only pertinent association being the one made between our palette and the wine itself.

Just do yourself a favor and stay away from his Diamond Series…

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