Wine of the Week: Forlorn Hope 2012 “Ghanima” Merlot, Napa Valley

The Forlorn Hope merlot is SOLD OUT. Thanks for your interest!

Matthew Rorick, the proprietor of Forlorn Hope, has a reputation for making soulful wines from fringe varieties such as Touriga Nacional, Sémillon, and Torrontes. He also makes a damn fine Napa Valley Merlot, which might as well be a fringe variety these days.

Most people associate Merlot with flabby, oaky, homogenous red wine from California, and varietal wines made from Merlot have been out of vogue since the movie “Sideways” came out (the protagonist hated Merlot because it reminded him of his ex). However, Merlot has been the primary grape in famous Bordeaux regions since the 1700’s, making some of the world’s finest wines from St. Emilion and Pomerol. Merlot also has a bit of history in United States, where it was once one of the most popular wines in the country.

Forlorn Hope’s Merlot, I’m told, is reminiscent of the fine Bordeaux-style wines made in Napa Valley in the 1970s. It’s old school in style; slightly herbal with plenty of rich red and black fruit backed up by low alcohol, balanced acidity, and dusty tannins. This wine is aged in 100% neutral French oak and fermented whole cluster, which allows terroir and varietal characteristics to shine.

If you’re a fan of old world red wines but prefer to buy locally grown and produced foods, give this beautiful wine a try. It’s the perfect pairing for grilled chicken, lamb, beef, or grilled sausages.


Winemaker: Matthew Rorick
Matthew Rorick is a surfer and Gulf war veteran. After the war, he returned to southern California where his grandfather encouraged him to study enology. Forlorn Hope was started in the mid-2000′s. His focus is lost and forgotten varieties, age-worthy white wines, and easy drinking reds. Rorick employs minimalist winemaking methods; he ferments with indigenous yeasts, leaves the grape clusters whole, and only uses small additions of SO2. He was the SF Chronicle’s 2013 Winemaker to Watch, and yes, we are watching!
US>California>Napa Valley
Hillside vineyard with white volcanic tufa soils
100% Merlot
16 months in neutral oak
Production Notes: 
100% whole-cluster fermented Merlot from a white volcanic tufa-laced hillside vineyard in Napa Valley. Aged 16 months in neutral oak. 47 cases produced.
Tasting Notes: 
This is about as old-school as California merlot can get. Red fruit is complimented by earth, dusty tannins, and a mineral finish. The antithesis of stereotypical “California Merlot”, this wine will seduce the most jaded palates.
Food Pairing: 
Filet mignon with green peppercorn sauce, braised lamb shanks, wild mushroom ragout.