Wine: Tangley Oaks Merlot
Grapes: merlot (82 percent), cabernet sauvignon (18 percent)
Region: Napa Valley, Calif.
In the glass: Tangley Oaks Merlot wine is a deep purplish-red color with a semi-opaque core going out into a fine violet-red rim definition with high viscosity.
On the nose: Very distinct notes of crushed blueberries, violets and raspberry sorbet hit right away, but then it opens up to reveal layers of black and red fruit, cranberry butter, minty notes, vanilla cream, mocha, oak references and high-tone fruit-driven minerals.
On the palate: Tangley Oaks Merlot features bright, forward crushed red and black fruit with good structure, underlying cran-blueberry juice and tasty sweetish spice box characteristics. It has some very good firm, yet supple, tannins that do not overpower the fruit through the midpalate, yet deliver on the finish with some rich, decidedly black cherry and milk chocolate notes and vague hints of violets and marionberry crush.
Odds and ends: This is one of those California merlot wines that on rare occasions makes it out of the fold in a blind tasting. There’s a lot of merlot planted in the rich soils of Napa Valley, but not much of it is used to make wine at this level at this price. It is commonly blended into the cabernet sauvignon wines, and it is rarely that great. If Kapcsandy Family Estate Roberta’s Reserve is the ultimate expression of Napa Valley merlot, then this Tangley Oaks is a great pretender for the money, because it is less than $10 and delivers a very nice experience. I noticed that it was available online for about $15, so this is a great price for this wine, and around this time of year, when everyone gets ready for the sweets to come, we can rejoice in having a good medium-bodied red wine to drink along with our tri-tip roast and thyme-roasted potatoes. Pop it open about 30 minutes before consumption. Drink it now through 2014.
Gil Lempert-Schwarz’s wine column appears Wednesdays. Write him at P.O. Box 50749, Henderson, NV 89106-0749, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.