Gregory Dal Piaz

Location: New York, NY

Merlot $15 and Under

Rank Wine Rating Price
1 Bonterra Vineyards Merlot Mendocino County (2008)
Comments: 2009 Bonterra Mendocino Co Merlot (Organic) 13.5% $15 Herbal and a bit leathery on the nose with soft violet, herb and dried grass accents to the attractively spicy wild berry fruit. This is soft and broad in the mouth with nicely fresh fruit flavors recalling red cherry and red currant in the mouth along with light, fresh herbal accents. The tannins are ripe and well integrated with enough acidity to add some sparkle to the midpalate. This finishes quite strongly with cherry pit fruit and a nice stony note that drives the vanilla laced wood spice through the finale. Eminently drinkable and highly recommended. 88pts Traits Acid: Medium Tannins: Soft Sweetness: Low Oak: Medium low Spicy Flavors: Low Savory Flavors: Medium Fruit flavors: Medium plus Intensity of Flavor: Medium Weight in Mouth: Medium low
Previously available for $42.12
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2 Jacuzzi Family Vineyards Carneros Estate Merlot (2008)
Comments: This is fairly complex on the nose with lovely carob, chocolate, pencil lead and wood spice aromas all nicely setting off the black cherry fruit. Full and rich in the mouth, this shows some pretty sophisticated flavors of black fruit, plum skin and a touch of earth, all supported by nicely integrated toasty and vanilla wood flavors. There’s a touch of extra tannin adding some dryness to the palate, but this is rich enough to handle it well. On the back end, nice herbal suggestions emerge adding complexity that fades quickly on the slightly chalky if modest, long plum and wood spice finish. 88pts
Previously available for $15.00
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3 Casillero del Diablo Merlot (2010)
Comments: This is decidedly herbal and smoky on the nose, with a lot of dried herb and grassy aromas accenting the cocoa- and leather-scented black currant and black berry fruit. This is surprisingly soft on entry with a smooth, glossy mouth feel supporting lovely spiced plum and blackberry fruit flavors. The tannins are ripe and polished, with a creamy edge. The flavors are fresh and pure with some acidity coming up on the back end, refreshing the palate for the moderately long, toasty oak-accented blackberry finish. A touch more acidity would be welcome here but this is quite attractive. 87pts
Previously available for $8.99
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4 Estancia Central Coast Merlot (2009)
Comments: Soft plummy fruit greets the nose along with well integrated vanilla and carob notes, topped with a hint of dried herb. Creamy and soft on entry, this is a rich, plush wine with lots of wild cherry, black berry and black plum flavors in the mouth that are supported nicely by fairly well integrated oak. There’s plenty of tannin here but it remains well covered by the rich fruit, which extends out on the moderately long finish. 87pts
Previously available for $13.99
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5 Wilson-Daniels Merlot Central Coast (2010)
Comments: Fresh and a touch funky on the nose with attractive herbal top notes over nuanced oak, blond tobacco and astringent red and blue fruits. This is well balanced on entry, medium-bodied and fairly transparent. Slight sour cherry and currant fruit on the palate are framed by gentle oak notes and some lovely herbal and floral accents. This shows impressive inner mouth perfumes at this price point, with good balance and a fine finish that picks up some cocoa accents. 87pts
Average price: $13.99 from 1 store
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6 Kenwood Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon Cabernet Franc. Cabernet Sauvignon. Petit Verdot. Merlot. Syrah Sonoma County (2009)
Comments: Tight and slightly leafy on the nose with hints of black tea and tobacco layered over sweet edged black cherry and currant fruit. This shows attractive complexity already. Broad, supple and very well balanced in the mouth with an attractive transparent texture and rather [ure and bright black currant and mulberry flavors supported by well judged oak and some lovely tea and dried herb acetns. There’s some pencil lead that emerges on the backend where the wine shows more red cherry, sour cherry fruit before fading gently on the cedar and vanilla laced finish. Easy to drink but not facile, this will drink well early. 92pts
Average price: $15.99 from 3 stores
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7 J. Lohr Estates Los Osos Merlot (2009)
Comments: Chocolate, herb and carob come together on the nose with lightly beefy base notes and plenty of spicy top notes. Soft and a bit plump in the mouth, this is slightly creamy with bright red cherry fruit saturating the palate. There’s a nice layer of wood spice floating under the fruit, with a vanilla cream accent popping on the back end. The back end shows a touch of sweetness balanced by the emerging drying notes of the wood tannin, lending this a bit of a creme caramel and raspberry finale. 86pts
Average price: $13.99 from 114 stores
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8 Bogle Vineyards Merlot California (2009)
Comments: Woody and slightly herbal on the nose with a very chocolaty overtone and spicy, almost prune fruit. Soft on entry and slightly creamy, but this maintains some nice freshness in the mouth. Good clarity to the slightly sweet plummy and dried fruit flavors. There’s a nice touch of wood on the mid-palate, adding some spice and enough acidity to add a touch of lift on the back end. Leads to a slightly astringent, clean black cherry finish with lots of tobacco and cedar accents. 85pts
Average price: $10.00 from 1 store
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9 Parducci Small Lot Blend Merlot (2009)
Comments: Bright and fresh on the nose with aromas that tend toward the lightly earthy and raw woody end of the spectrum, with a little cigar box, cocoa and a blade of grass as accents. Medium-bodied and rather well integrated in the mouth, even if the acidity is prominent and the wood tannins emerge slightly raspy on the back end. There’s a nice kernel of red cherry and plum fruit here, with plenty of wood-induced spice adding detail. The finish is fairly short and abrupt with some woody tannin lingering on the palate. 84pts
Previously available for $10.99
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10 Francis Co Shiraz (2008)
Comments: Slightly herbal and cocoa-dusted on the nose, this shows an almost floral sweetness to the aromas of beefy, plummy fruit. A bit thick on entry, this is soft and a bit fat. Fills your mouth with plush, dark berry and lightly baked plum fruit, accented with a hint of baking spices, vanilla and caramel. It’s an easy drinking, fairly intense wine suited for the cocktail set. 84pts
Average price: $14.99 from 113 stores
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11 Woodbridge By Robert Mondavi Cabernet-Merlot California (2010)
Comments: This smells of raw wood with some light floral and citrus accents. Very soft in the mouth, this has some substance to it but it is mostly obscured by the wood here, which leaves this quite spicy. There is not too much obvious wood tannin. The fruit is soft and plummy with a hint of strawberry jam to it, and the finish is light and quite fresh, with an attractive quality to the tannins. A wine whose appeal probably lies with its feel, it is pretty well balanced and easy enough to drink. Even if it lacks some flavor interest, it is certainly far from bad. 82pts
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