Quail Oak Merlot

What is up with wines that give little or no information about their makers?  It makes me wonder.  Seriously!  In fact, I find it extremely suspicious when a winery doesn’t support their product with informative labeling or at least a modest online presence.  That pertains equally to a retailer that sells a private label but disguises it as something other than a store brand.  Seems like they’re saying, “I’m horribly embarrassed that I made this wine (ordered this wine), so I’m not going to admit to being responsible for it.”  If I think a wine producer is being cagey, I am much less likely to buy their wines no matter what they call them, how they dress them up, or how low the price.  As a result, this was my very first experience with any of the Quail Oak selections.

Winemaker:  Quail Oak (by The Wine Group for Safeway?)
Varietal:  Merlot
Vintage:  NV
Appellation:  America
Price:  $6.99 at Safeway

Notes:   On the nose I smelled berries and musty earth.  The wine is very light-bodied with moderate acidity.  At 12.5% alcohol, the Quail Oak Merlot is definitely not a dry red.  In fact, I would call this wine sweet.  Aside from the sweetness and the lack of any structure to speak of, I found this selection to be fairly pleasant.  Flavors for me were plum, dark cherry, a bit of pepper, hints of oak and tar, as well as a dash of bitter herbs on the finish.  Personally, though, I really do prefer my Merlots a bit dryer.  It wasn’t an offensive wine.  It wasn’t a diamond hidden amongst stones, either.  I’d say it’s another good candidate for a Sangria – perhaps one that includes citrus because the sweetness of this wine will help balance the citrus.  Or maybe this would do well with some leftover spicy Chinese food – Twice Cooked Pork, General Tso’s Chicken and such.

Important: I am not a professional sommelier or wine connoisseur.  See “About” for the full disclaimer.

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Three Wishes Merlot

First, let me say that the Three Wishes selections provided a mystery from the outset.  Now, I love a mystery.  When I read books for personal entertainment, that’s the genre I gravitate toward.  The mystery in question here was, “Who makes the line of Three Wishes wines for Whole Foods?”  Queries on all the major internet search engines turned up nothing about the winery, until ….  I found that Three Wishes Vineyards shares the exact same address as Concannon Vineyards in Livermore, CA.  Ta da!

Winemaker:  Three Wishes Vineyards (by Concannon? for Whole Foods)
Varietal:  Merlot
Vintage:  NV
Appellation:  America
Price:  $3.29 at Whole Foods

Notes:  Starting with the appellation “America,” I listed it that way because there is no indication of grape source other than the words “American Merlot” on the back label of this wine.  In the glass this inexpensive Merlot was a medium garnet color.  It definitely had that brownish tinge around the edges like a garnet has.  On the nose I got very faint scents of berries, pepper, and a musty earthiness.  On the palate it was pretty thin.  By that I mean that it was extremely light-bodied, and the flavors weren’t very intense.  After it breathed awhile, the flavors  I found were cherry with raspberry notes, some slight hints of pepper and spice, and a cream of tartar zip of … tartness.  At 12.5% alcohol there is a bit of sweetness there to offset the tartness, but it isn’t a sweet wine in the main.  There were no tannins to speak of, and acidity was good.  Overall, I didn’t think this was a great wine.  Of course, at $3.29 a bottle I wasn’t expecting it to be a blockbuster.  It isn’t a typical Merlot – it’s lighter and a bit more tart that most.  But it’s entirely drinkable.  Actually, I feel this wine is the perfect candidate for Sangria.  So grab several bottles!  Get some fruit, etc. and enjoy it at your next patio party.  If you don’t have a Sangria Recipe, the one at this link looks pretty great.

Important: I am not a professional sommelier or wine connoisseur.  See “About” for the full disclaimer.