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Markham Vineyards Estate Merlot 2015 + Poached Salmon Salad with Vanilla Bean Vinaigrette and Some Chocolate #MerlotMe #Sponsored

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Markham Vineyards, one of the #MerlotMe event sponsors.
Complimentary wine was provided for this post and this page may contain affiliate links.
However, all opinions expressed here are my own.

We are inching towards October. It means the air has a little bit of a chill in the morning. It means apples are at the market in full force. It means I have braises and stews on the brain. And it means the start of #MerlotMe month. Yep. An entire month filled with Merlot-food pairings made all the more fun with the samples of Merlot from all around that keep appearing on my doorstep!

Besides getting to play with food and wine, I love that every year I receive wines from winemakers that I have never tried before. This is the perfect case in point. I received a bottle of the 2015 Estate Merlot from Markham Vineyards* this time around.

In My Glass

From their Yountville Estate Vineyard, the vines here were taken from the famed Three Palms Vineyard where Merlot was first cultivated within the Napa Valley. Retailing at $55, this bottle is composed of 75% Merlot, 18% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 7% Cabernet Franc.


Heady aromas swirled in this glass - from ripe cherries to bitter chocolate - and it was the color of a rich, sanguine ruby. So pretty!

On My Plate

The winemaker suggested roasted duck, morels, and potato gratin. And though I love all of those - think Braised Duck Legs with a Vanilla Bean SauceVinegar-Braised Chicken Thighs with Crisped Morels, and Tartiflette - on the day that I planned to pour this, the mercury topped 100 degrees here on California's central coast. We don't have air-conditioning here and I begin to wilt at about 70 degrees anyway. So, I decided to keep my oven and stove time to a minimum and opted to poach some salmon and make a vanilla bean vinaigrette to drizzle over the entrée salad.

  • organic salad greens
  • blanched green beans
  • sliced organic tomatoes
  • crumbled queso freso
  • olives (I used pitted kalamata)
  • toasted, salted pecans
  • organic blood oranges
  • poached salmon (I poached in olive oil like this one)
  • vanilla bean vinaigrette (my recipe here)

Arrange the salad elements on individual serving plates and let diners drizzle the vinaigrette as they wish! 

+ A Sweet Treat

Despite the rigid structure and prevalent tannins, the espresso and chocolate notes gave this wine an almost silky impression. So, after dinner, Jake and I decided to pour a second glass to try with some chocolate. I had a coffee-caramel bar from Trader Joe's. We both thought the chocolate softened the wine considerably and were impressed at its versatility. I was getting almost a marzipan sweetness while he said it learned more towards buttery brioche. Pretty intriguing, I will say!

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*Disclosure: I received compensation in the form of wine samples for recipe development and generating social media traction. My opinions do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the organizer and sponsors of this event.

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