A friend whom I met when he used to work at a local wine bar emailed a few days ago to suggest that I begin taking recommendations for wines to review. He’d recently had one he wanted me to try, and he quickly got me interested in trying it. I love that, though we rarely see one another, he thought to share that wine with me. Wine remains a social aspect of life, and I especially appreciate the ways that technology, from Vivino to this blog and beyond, have made it possible for more and more of us to socialize as we enjoy our favorite wines. (If you don’t follow us on Instagram, please do!)
Fortuitously, I’d recently gotten a small shipment of wines that I’d requested based on the recommendations of a few of my Vivino friends. Every time I reviewed 14 Hands wines, a few more people would comment and ask me if I had ever tried their reserves, which I hadn’t — until last night.
I got home from an especially long day of teaching and meetings, microwaved some old pizza, then headed upstairs where I hugged and read to my kids for a short while before Sonja and I put them to bed. Then we went downstairs and, both of us finally recovered from our various illnesses, we decided to share our first bottle of wine in far too long. This wine having just arrived and both of us being fans of Merlot, it was a perfect fit.
The aromatics got to me from the moment I removed the cork, deep purple and brighter red fruits, perhaps some lavender and a touch of cocoa, wafting out of the bottle invitingly even before I began to pour the inky, dark liquid — two small sample pours into our Bordeaux glasses, the rest into a decanter. It was decidedly a good thing that my wife and I wanted to have a leisurely conversation, because this stoic wine took a long time to open up. If you purchase a bottle, be patient, and I recommend a long decant — think sixty to ninety minutes or so. This wine is dense and chewy upon the palate with dark fruit flavors and heavy oak, unsweetened chocolate and graphite notes. Immense, it has the girth and structure of a big Cabernet Sauvignon, complete with impressive and formidable tannins; I couldn’t have successfully blinded this wine to save my life.
The 14 Hands Reserve Merlot tempered over time in the decanter, revealing milder oak imparted flavors, more refined blue fruits peeking through, and ultimately smoothing out significantly. Imposing structure and a weighty mouthfeel mean it requires a decant, but also that it’s age-worthy. In fact, I think this sucker may well last forever, though if I had to put a number on it I’d guess it will do well for at least a couple decades. 14.9% ABV, it’s composed of 90% Merlot, 10% Syrah, and gets the royal treatment of spending 17 months on 53% new French oak. A Cabernet lover’s Merlot if ever there was one, I highly recommend it for its strong QPR, and I’m quite thankful to the folk who have been recommending 14 Hands reserve wines to me for so long. I’m excited to try the others.
To conclude, I’d like to follow up on my friend’s suggestion: If you have tried a wine that you really like, or maybe one you’re unsure about, and you’d like me to give it a swirl in the glass, I’d love to. Use the comments section or the “contact us” link on this blog and tell me what you think I ought to try. If I can find it — and afford it — then I’ll certainly drink and review it. (You’re also more than welcome just to mail me a bottle if you’d like.) As always, thanks for reading, and I look forward to trying the wines you recommend!
Cheers to trying new wines together,