2014 Hānaialiʻi Merlot

Year: 2014

Producer: Smith Devereux

Region: St. Helena, Napa Valley, California

Grape(s): Merlot

Alcohol: 15.1%

Body: Medium-Full

Dry/Sweet: Dry

Tasting Notes: Black cherry, plum, chocolate, vanilla, oak

Pairings: Dark chocolate, grilled tri-tip, rack of lamb or barbecue ribs, Kalbi, aged cheeses

Price (approximately): $18


My Musings:

Named after Amy Hānaialiʻi Gilliom, one of my favorite local Hawaiian artists. She also produced one of my favorite Christmas albums, so be sure to pick that up in time for the holidays.

Wow, this Merlot is true to Napa form: big, bold, alcoholic and drinks like a Cabernet Sauvignon. Wonderful spicy and oaked flavors of black cherry, currant, blueberry, chocolate and vanilla. Velvety on the palate and a great, lingering finish. Fits the American palate brilliantly, and is great paired with grilled items (lamb, beef or ribs), Korean Kalbi, aged and salty cheeses (such as aged cheddar and Parmigiano-Regianno), or with some dark chocolate and Christmas music (stash this one away for a few months, you will thank me then). Often priced at $30, this may get lost in a sea of Napa Merlot, but at Costco's value price of $17.99, it is definitely worth adding one (or two, or three) to the cart.

The bottle design is a part of Hānaialiʻi. Literally. I will let her explain:

“The tattoo is an interesting part of my life ... This one, the one that is on my bottles, I did after my father passed. This is a growth tattoo, and you don’t normally put a growth tattoo on the left side of your body, mostly you put them on the right side. But I wanted it to look like a jewelry piece. This is the pika design, the octopus design ... It’s all significant, my father is here. It signifies growth, like the octopus going into different areas with the tentacles, like me with my music.”