Longboard Vineyards Merlot DaKine Vineyard, Russian River Valley 2019

Deep ruby color; cherry, pomegranate, blackcurrant; plum, chocolate, oak on the nose and palate.

Longboard Vineyards Merlot DaKine Vineyard, Russian River Valley 2019

Dry; lush, mellow malbec; relaxed tannins and acidity (3.79 pH). Mid-palate is particularly engaging. Field blend of 89% merlot, 11% malbec; 100% from the DaKine Vineyard in the Russian River Valley of Sonoma; vines planted in 1985. Medium body. Aged 24 months in French oak. 14.2% ABV

Oded Shakked is the owner and winemaker. He was born in Israel; his parents were of German and Czech origins. The family spent two years in Uruguay and a year in France. By age 12, he was fluent in Hebrew, Spanish, and French. After mandatory service in the Israeli Defense Force, Shakked built surfboards for a living—thus the wine label—and surfing trips exposed him to grape growing and winemaking. One thing led to another, and he enrolled in the winemaking program at UC Davis, graduating in 1988.

Longboard owner Oded Shakked

Shakked interned at Domain Chandon in Napa and with Chateau Lafite-Rothschild. He then moved to Jordan Vineyards, where he became the head winemaker. He worked at Jordan for 18 years. Shakked established Longboard Vineyards in 1998 with a focus on merlot, malbec, syrah. In 2005 he bought the Three Palms from the Mondavis and began farming grapes. Shakked named the vineyard “DaKine” (pronounced Dah-kain), a Hawaiian-Creole expression that could mean almost anything—sort of like “watchamacallit”— and can describe anything, such as terroir.

Longboard’s fact sheet notes: “Oded takes great pride in being a family man, a farmer, a scientist, an artist and an (old) surfer and loves to put his ‘Sabra’ can-do attitude to good use when consulting with other wineries around the globe.” He also told the Santa Rosa Press Democrat: “Sideways [the movie that trashed merlot] did great service to merlot lovers. It caused all the crappy marginal vineyards to be replanted… Being a foodie and a contrarian, I started making merlot the minute the movie came out.” This bottle attests to his wisdom.

Longboard tasting-barrel room

Longboard Vineyards Merlot DaKine Vineyard, Russian River Valley 2019: Nicely balanced and delicious. Field blend of mostly merlot and some malbec has a seamless, engaging journey from soft, smooth initial attack, through balanced and delicious mid-palate, then an extended and polished finish. Quite a nice merlot from Sonoma and a quality winemaker. Pair with red meats—filet mignon; beef in general; veal; venison and wild boar; salmon or tuna carpaccio served as an appetizer; roast chicken. Cheese—merlot is very versatile with cheese; cheddar, havarti, swiss, gruyere, parmesan, asiago, muenster, gouda, brie, colby, camembert, gorgonzola. $30-46

Longboard Vineyards website

Longboard tasting room