I have been looking for this Napa Valley Merlot for some time now, having read good things about it in the past. This is a problem living where I do, as the government strictly controls what types and brands of alcoholic beverages may be sold. To make a long story short, I found a bottle in a local store and bought it for $15.

I really enjoyed this wine, though I find it a little hard to describe. It's a young wine yet, which the purple hues in its otherwise bright red color give away. The wine has a sharp, peppery aroma, the kind I've come to expect from a Merlot. A sip reveals a wine that does not overwhelm its innate grapiness with fruit and berry tastes—which are present (especially in plum form) but subtle in this well-made red wine. The wine's tannins are soft and delicate, but present, giving the wine a nice moderate body and pleasing finish. (Temperature note: I drank this wine at about 65 degrees F, and a later glass at room temperature was not as stunning. I think the wine has about a 13.5% alcohol content, so I bet it could go even lower—say to about 60 degrees—and still offer a flavorful experience.)

I don't think this is a wine that's built to age, but it does offer a good amount of taste complexity and tannic dryness. In short, I guess it's a good middleground between a really full bodied Cabernet Sauvignon and a super fruity Merlot (which seem to be rising to dominance in the marketplace).

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