2007 Blackstone Limited Release Sonoma Valley Merlot

Light tobacco and nilla wafer notes greet the nose with hightones of gingery oak spice framing the cherry fruit.  This is a bit light on the palate with a bit of a loose feel with very soft tannins, though there is plenty of acidity. The fruit is a bit on the candied side with a sweet raspberry and red plum core that has notes of mint and chocolate adding interest. The tannins gain traction on the backend and through the moderately long candied red fruit, mint and coffee tinged finish. 87pts

2005 Toasted Head Merlot

Very sharp bitter cocoa, red cherry, toast, and dried tarragon notes on the nose.  This is decidedly medium bodied with a bright acid driven spice and soft tannins enmeshed in red, slight astringent fruits that recall cranberry and red currant more than they dark fruits typically associated with merlot.  Fresh and crisp in the mouth if a touch austere with a light vanilla overlay that leads to a wild cherry finish with hints of graham cracker and white chocolate.  I would not guess this to be merlot, but I like it for what it is.  87pts.

2006 Parducci Mendocino Merlot

This smells a bit leathery and earthy with some damp coffee grounds balancing the black cherry fruit that has a touch of a menthol top note.  A bit dense in the mouth but at the same time this is smooth with nice intensity to the flavors. A distinct coffee tone in the mouth with nice chewy red plum fruits and hints of sweet baking spices lead to a somewhat short, yet refreshing finish with a hint of raspberry on toast for the finale. 87pts

2006 Fox Run Finger Lakes Merlot

Ashy and rocky and slightly animal on the nose with old, cold coffee tones and hints of amarena cherry.  On entry this offers some nice, ripe fruit in the red end of the spectrum. The tannins shows just a hint of astringency working well with the bright but integrated acidity giving this a fresh, bright feel that supports the light cherry fruit. It’s a touch herbal and austere going into the finish but is clean and brisk with good length to the slightly vegetal, red berry fruits. Zingy and fresh.  86pts

2007 Frei Brothers Dry Creek Valley Merlot Reserve

Sweet woods tones, a touch herbal and earthy though with a strong coffee/mocha element and smoked meat notes.  This is attractively silky in the mouth with fine, slightly granular tannins that give this a bit of textural detail. The flavors are a bit on the oaky side with a touch of caramel to the coffee tinged dark plum fruits. It’s pretty much textbook Merlot, nothing out of place though it finishes a bit short it’s made in a crowd pleasing style. 86pts

2007 Smoking Loon California Merlot

There’s an off-putting hint of turpentine on the nose but other wise this has the typical cocoa tinged black fruits with clovey oak notes of most Merlot.  Fairly rich in the mouth and well balanced with fresh, if simple red fruits. The turpentine shows up as a top note of refreshing balsam.  This shows good balance and nice varietal character. 86pts

2004 Perrucci Santa Cruz Mountain Merlot

Red apples, dried meat, damp cigar butt and a touch of barnyard all join together in this slightly volatile and rustic nose.  Rich and smooth on the palate, with lovely structure. There are lovely ripe tannins here and bright acids supporting very fresh and admirably precise spiced plum fruits with tar, melon rind, and anise seed accents. There’s not much on the finish besides the acids but this still has some intriguing notes. 85pts

2008 The Crusher Wilson Vineyard Merlot

Toasty, earthy, big black cherry, big fruit, a fair amount of wood, lot’s of sweet scents. Though the charry oak is pretty much slathered on.  Medium bodied with sweetness on entry to the red fruits that are followed across the palate by toast, spicy wood tones that add a touch of coffee bean bitterness to the fruit. A good bit of acid refreshes the back end but there is something a bit coarse and tough about this wine even though it delivers a fair amount of candied red and black fruits. 84pts

2008 Round Hill Merlot

Leafy, green herby, green tomato and sawdust on the nose.  This is a touch sweet on entry and across the palate but the sugar gives this some volume in the mouth, and balances the acids and slightly rough tannins. Rather neutral on the palate with green tomato and slight wood tones. Drying on the finish. This is a little coarse and rustic, and tastes little like Merlot but is an acceptable table wine that I would consider for hot dogs and hamburgers. 83pts