Retailer Wine Selections

FOUR STARS

(91) Decoy Sonoma County Merlot 2010 (California). This is a wonderfully constructed merlot, with balanced fruit and tannin; very subtle berry fruit with a slight hint of cedar give a nice complexity to this merlot. ($24)

(91) Milbrandt Vineyards The Estates Wahluke Slope Merlot 2010 (Washington State). A cab lover’€™s merlot; big and powerful with complex black fruit flavors on a medium-bodied frame. ($23)

(91) Kestrel Yakima Valley Merlot 2009 (Washington State). Yakima Valley may currently be producing some of the best merlot in the wine world; this way over-delivers with intense and full-bodied flavors of black cherry and blueberry with notes of clove to add complexity; the tannins are nicely integrated and play off the fruit flavors beautifully. ($20)

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(91) Martin Ray Oak Knoll Reserve Merlot 2011 (California). Excellent merlot from and under-appreciated area for the varietal; cool afternoon breezes let this Merlot retain great freshness; a bold and concentrated wine, with a zippy-ness that sets it apart from many. ($22)

(91) Angel’€™s Landing Napa Valley Merlot 2009 (California). Shows the depth and complexity of a fine Bordeaux, with mocha and cocoa tinted flavors of ripe black fruits that build layer upon layer across the palate; firm tannins provide excellent structure, and everything is tastefully balanced. ($19)

(91) Cape Diamond Merlot 2009 (Oregon). The bouquet seems subtle at first, but gets quite complex, with wood spice and earth tones mingling with blueberry and plum, and there are some exotic notes as well; medium-full, round and beautifully balanced, the palate maintains a subtle but complex dance of juicy Asian plum, blueberry, light oak and savory spice flavors. ($13)

(91) R. Collection Merlot 2010 (California). From Raymond Vineyrads; smooth cherry, raspberry and plum flavors. ($16)

(91) Wildhaven Merlot 2011 (Washington State). A beautifully integrated wine; bold fruit notes of blackberry and boysenberry that balance the higher-toned raspberry and cherry notes; a long and smooth finish. ($11)

(90) Frei Brothers Dry Creek Merlot 2011 (California). A beautiful fruit bomb of fun, yet controlled in a way which offers wonderful sophistication; initially, berry fruit with a slight explosion of blackberry, and then everything comes together for the finish, into a very rich, savory wine. ($20)

(90) Fog Bank Paso Robles Merlot 2011 (California). This merlot offers concentrated flavors of ripe plum, strawberry and raspberry followed by silky tannins and a touch of spice on the smooth finish; great value. ($13)

(90) Jason Stephens Estate Merlot 2009 (California). Smooth and rich with pure black fruit flavors; excellent extraction. ($17)

(90) Dominican Oaks Napa Merlot 2011 (California). A classic Napa Valley-styled merlot; the nose bursts with ripe currant and black cherry flavors, with subtle milk chocolate notes; smooth, sleek, and polished texture make this an excellent value. ($18)

(90) Alterra Merlot 2010 (California). The smooth and spicy style of merlot with the slightest hints of coconut and dill underneath the more dominant flavors of blackberry and vanilla; an excellent value. ($13)

(90) Columbia Crest H3 Merlot 2010 (Washington State). The aroma has lots of berry, but not a fruit bomb wine; spicy blackberry with a hint of chocolate covered cherry; dry tannic finish. ($13)

(90) Angeline Sonoma Merlot 2011 (California). The palate is very fresh and lively; tastes just like fresh picked black cherries and strawberries sprinkled with a bit of cocoa powder; the tannins are nicely polished and give this excellent Sonoma merlot a smooth and round texture. ($15)

(90) Kinneybrook Sonoma Merlot 2010 (California). This starts off big and juicy with fruit flavors of red berries, boysenberry and crème de cassis; a subtleness to the wine that is easy to enjoy. ($17)

(90) Muirwood Merlot 2011 (California). Big and rich flavors of vanilla, crème de cassis, and coconut jump from the glass; the aromatics are very dense with a nicely concentrated texture that will go great with grilled meats. ($14)

(90) Starmont Napa Valley Merlot 2009 (California). From Merryvale Winery, this is a rich merlot with cherry, currant, clove, toasty oak and vanilla notes; a long finish. ($20)

(90) Rust En Vrede Stellenbosch Merlot 2011 (South Africa). Great dark color, nose of cassis, a hint of dark berries and spice, very dry but with generous smooth tannins; a cabernet drinker’€™s merlot; mouthwatering and velvety. ($22)

(90) Crosby Merlot 2011 (California). Not a well-know name but a constant performer; smooth and easy; ripe and smooth tannins; a good choice for everyday drinking. ($9)

(90) Bogle Merlot 2010 (California). Easy to find and very approachable; ripe berry aromas and silky flavors that last. ($9)

(90) Lindeman’€™s Limestone Coast Reserve Merlot 2009 (Australia). A bang for your buck; aromatic, sweet dark cherry; medium body and easy tannins; affordable merlot from Down Under ($9)

(90) Grayson Cellars Merlot 2011 (California). Always over-delivers for its price point; the quality and structure of this wine is wonderful; rich tannins intermingled with cassis and berries. ($9)

(89) Running With Scissors Merlot 2011 (California). Ripe blackberry and mocha flavors intertwine nicely with a subtle earthiness on the palate. The fruit flavors are intense, but the cool climate in the Central Coast keeps everything pleasantly fresh. ($11)

(89) Glass Mountain Merlot 2009 (California). Black cherry, pepper and spicy red licorice aromas. Dark fruits like black cherry and blackberry with soft tannins but a dry finish; well balanced. ($8)

(89) Compass Merlot 2010 (California). Spicy dark berry on the nose; bold flavors of blackberry, leather and smoky cherries; rich but with a dry dusty finish. ($13)

(89) Ballard Lane Paso Robles Merlot 2010 (California). This Bordeaux-styled merlot (81% merlot, 19% cabernet franc) has good structure, with 16 month oak aging; crisp acidity balanced by fruit tones of cherry, red currants, and plums in a softer lighter style; good first merlot for the novice consumer. ($19)

(89) Montoya Merlot 2010 (California). The palate shows ripe and balanced flavors of dried cranberry with some darker blackberry flavors interwoven; a subtle herbaceous note the keeps it interesting. ($14)

(89) Josh Cellars Merlot 2011 (California). A bold merlot with rich plum and cherry flavors accented by a touch of oak; a long soft finish. ($15)

(89) Script & Seal Merlot 2010 (Washington State). A nicely elegant style of merlot; some subtle hints of dried oregano and rosemary add complexity to the riper black fruit flavors; the tannins are present, which gives this wine a firmness that you don’€™t always find in merlot. ($13)

(88) Le Cluzet 2009 Bordeaux (France). Made from 75% merlot and 25% cabernet sauvignon, this garnet-colored wine possesses lovely plum and cranberry aromas along with some savory spice notes; fresh, dry and a touch tart on the palate, with juicy red fruit flavors bolstered by some snappy acidity; medium bodied and maintains quite good balance right through the finish. ($9)

(88) Nice Legs Merlot 2009 (California). The bouquet is very mild but there are some nicely creamy cassis aromas; medium bodied and nicely round on the palate, with tasty red and black cherry flavors that gain intensity and depth across the palate; good balance and length. ($10)

(88) La Playa Block Selection Block Number 10 Reserve Merlot 2010 (Chile). Smooth, soft, flavorful and an outstanding value; hard to find this much flavor at such a low price. ($11)

(88) Red Diamond Merlot 2010 (Washington State). Spiced black cherry, berry and plum flavors. ($11)

(88) Lindeman’€™s Bin 40 Merlot 2011 (Australia). Juicy plum with a smooth finish. ($10)

(88) Coastline Merlot Paso Robles 2011 (California). A pure Paso Robles style merlot; big and intense dark fruit flavors of blackberry, mulberry, and black mission figs; even with intensity, it has a nice soft finish that fades slowly. ($11)

(88) Eye Candy Merlot 2009 (California). Oak notes and a bit of menthol lead things off in the nose, and then some mild black cherry aromas emerge; medium-bodied, soft and round, it has a nice feel and the red fruit flavors build in intensity across the palate; good balance and structure. ($9)

(87) Chateau Haut Libarde Cotes de Bourg 2009 (France). A nice bouquet, filled with black currant and milk chocolate in a creamy fashion; medium bodied, it is slightly soft but there is generous tannin keeping it firm and dry; a nice array of red and black cherry flavors along with a touch of plum. ($13)

(87) Oyster Bar Merlot 2010 (New Zealand). Plum and blackberries dominate; fine-grain tannins on the finish; brimming with fresh fruit. ($15)

(87) Domaine De Gournier Red Rhone Merlot 2010 France). True to the varietal wine (made from 100% merlot); soft, great extraction with smooth tannins, a hint of plum, dark fruits and a touch of minerality. Very well balanced for the price. ($11)

(86) Santa Rita 120 Merlot 2010 (Chile). Impressive fruit and structure; flavors of blueberry, cassis and peppery oak. ($8)

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