Wine of the Week: Blackstone Winemaker's Select 2008 Merlot

I have never reviewed a Merlot. I don't know if it's a subconscious reaction to the impassioned anti-Merlot rhetoric by Miles in the movie Sideways, or simply because I prefer bolder red wines like Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec. In any case, this bottle, sent to me from Blackstone's public relations company, was facing an uphill battle before it was even corked.

At first glance, the wine seemed surprisingly thin. There were no substantial legs, although the color was a deep, dark violet. The aroma was very fruity and almost buttery. I knew there were flavors of caramel waiting for me at first sniff. Nicely smooth and velvety, it goes down like buttah with lots of strong fruit flavors of dried cherries and strawberries with a spicy kick. The nice acidity made my mouth water - pleasantly, like Pavlov's dog salivating at the ring of the bell. Every sip was rounded out with a richness of cocoa and caramel, making for a decadent glass of wine.

On the flip side, the intensity of all the fruit alongside the strong, sweeter finish almost make for a syrupy taste and feel when you've reached the halfway mark of one glass. More tannins would have provided a nice counterbalance and better mouthfeel. Drinking one glass bordered between satisfying and over-the-top. When I finish off the bottle, I'll make sure to pour a smaller glass.

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