Dark Horse Merlot 2014

According to Merriam Webster, a dark horse is a “little known competitor that makes an unexpectedly good showing.”  Interesting how the idea of a dark horse has been inspiration for artists (and politicians) for … well, a long time.

Winemaker: Dark Horse
Varietal: Merlot
Vintage: 2014
Appellation: California
Price: $8.99

Notes: In the bouquet this Dark Horse presented jammy dark fruit, cedar, and damp loam.  At 13.5% alcohol, it was medium-bodied with moderate tannins.  Acidity was good as well.  On the palate I found dark berries and plum with touches of cinnamon and molasses.  Of course it wasn’t as sweet as molasses.  I thought this Merlot might be good served with game fowl, but it was fine to sip alone.

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Trader Joe’s Grower’s Reserve Merlot 2014

I picked this Merlot up on a very recent visit to my neighborhood Trader Joe’s.  Sometimes …

Other times “whatcha see” is an illusion, and what lies in store can be either a horrible shock or a pleasant surprise.  Personally, I like pleasant surprises, and this wine turned out to be one of those.

Winemaker:  Trader Joe’s
Wine:  Grower’s Reserve Merlot
Varietal:  Merlot
Vintage:  2014
Appellation:  California
Price:  $4.99 at Trader Joe’s

Notes:  A medium-bodied red with good acidity and medium-plus tannins, this inexpensive Merlot had a definite purplish hue which brought to mind big, juicy, ripe plums.  My eyes, however, deceived me.  What I found in the bouquet was a mix of cedar, earth and barnyard with sweet floral notes.  On the tongue it had an almost chalky texture with cola, blackberry, and tea leaf along with some sweet cherry that blossomed after oxidation.  Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t a sweet wine: alcohol is at 13.2%.  Anyway, I liked it.  It’s cheap, and it’s competent – even interesting – as inexpensive wines go.  House red for me?  It’s a possibility.