2006 Clos LaChance Merlot

2006 Clos LaChance MerlotPrice: $4.99 @ Trader Joe’s

What They Said:

Per Clos LaChance “Aromas of red plums and cranberries. Vanilla and cinnamon with undertones of dried cherry and a slight herbal note. Soft, velvety entry with subtle cherry fruit and plumy flavors. If I could use one word to describe this wine, it would be “smooth.” The mid-palate is soft, yet has a presence. A touch of dusty vanilla and spice. The finish is supple, but has some length to it. Try with a grilled pork tenderloin or spaghetti marinara.”

What I Think:

A short time back I mentioned my angst around wineries who offer their product via Trader Joe’s but continue to sell them at greater prices on their own website. To me this is a poke in the eye to your most loyal customers. As I mentioned then, Rabbit Ridge sets the gold standard here for making their wine available to club members for $50 a case before shipping it off to Trader Joe’s. While Clos LaChance did offer this mea culpa of sorts guessing they never offered this to club members for $5 a bottle. Why? Because as you will see below this wine is way too good not to get bought up by those in the know. So onto the wine…

On the nose you get bold, dark fruits with olive and black pepper notes. Nice mouthfeel starts with rich red fruit that mellows with some acidity emerging mid palate to keep it balanced and finishes in a rush of chocolate dusted red (cherry?) fruit. This is a solid wine from start to finish. With little to no tannins throughout this one is soft and smooth which make it easy for a whole bottle to disappear before you even notice. At $5 I have to give this one a bulk buy as it is worth double the money. That said I fear I’m teasing you as I am it seems availability is almost zero so good luck hunting it down. Let me know if/where you find it!

Rating: Bulk Buy

2005 Cameron Hughes Lot 112 Napa Valley Merlot

2005 Cameron Hughes Lot 112 Napa Valley MerlotPrice: $12.00 @ Friend/Gift

What They Said:

Cameron Confidential: Lot 112 Napa County Merlot represents exceptional value. Sourced from the un-appellated Coombsville and Jamieson Canyon regions (which is why it has the Napa County designation), this wines has the beautiful, supple structure and classic fruit profile of great Napa Merlot (which requires a few minutes of swirling in the glass to get going). Sourced from one of the most-respected wineries in the Napa Valley (where it is sold for $24/bottle), this wine is sure to please those of you who crave Merlot or those of you looking for a supple wine with harmonious mouth feel and great character.

Taste: Dark, almost blackened crimson color; Aromas of cherry, spice, and chocolate spring from the glass underpinned by bright fruit notes of strawberries and plums. A supple, rich mouth feel coupled with well-integrated oak presents a complex, yet smooth Merlot, perfect for that wintertime cocktail party.

What I Think:

Though I am very aware of Cameron Hughes I have rarely tasted his wines. In fact my records show I’ve that this is just the second of his offerings that I’ve sampled (the other being Lot 55 Napa Valley Meritage). For those that need an intro Cameron Hughes is very well known négociant who sources high quality wines from around the world and sells each as a lot in his series. The easiest place to find his wines for those interested is Costco, at least from what I hear…

So let’s get to the wine. On the nose this one shows cherry and oak. When the wine hits your tongue you get a glimpse of soft red fruits that disappear before you can decide if it was strawberry or raspberry. From there the wine becomes dark and rich. This is a very well structured effort that is smooth and balanced throughout. The finish is dusty and chocolaty and leaves your mouth coated with tannins long after the glass is empty. A nice, smooth, easy drinking bottle. I would argue everything you expect for $12 but not more at the same time. If I had to choose whether or not to buy another bottle I’d likely roll the dice on trying something new.

Rating: Pricey

And for those interested in another opinion how about one from the man himself… Check Cameron Hughes in the video below, he start talking about this one around 4:50 into the video. Enjoy!


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2005 Mount Linden Merlot

2005 Mount Linden MerlotPrice: $3.99 @ Trader Joe’s

What They Said:

Per the bottle “Mount Linden wines are blended using a careful selection of choice grapes from California’s top winemaking region to produce exceptional wines true to their character. Mount Linden wines focus on rich, pure flavors of California’s best vineyards. The lush, cherry fruit of this Mount Linden Merlot is carried on an exceptionally velvety frame. Aromas of cedar and toasty oak accent the ripe raspberry flavors.”

What I Think:

I’ll keep this one short. This one is full bodied with warm cherry flavors on the palate. It turns sour and finishes just a bit spicy and tannic with vanilla notes (imparted from the barrel). Nice effort for the money, a perfect juicy quaffer that apparently includes some Syrah “to add depth & structure”.

Rating: Buy It

2003 Columbia Crest Two Vines Merlot

Price: $5.99 @ Trader Joe’s

What They Said:

Per wine.com: “This pleasing Merlot offers intense aromas of spice, blackberry, and raspberry with expressions of cocoa and soft velvet on the palate. A hint of chocolate completes the lingering finish.” -Ray Einberger, Winemaker

What I Think:

This one was a pleasant surprise. I’ve always coupled Washington and Merlot in my head so I thought this was a good time to do my quarterly check in on this varietal. Amazingly out of the 286 bottles I have consumed since starting this blog a mere 2 have been merlot. This one opened the doors for me to try others. Nice, round red fruit throughout followed by a lingering hint of chocolate on the finish before fading to vanilla/barrel flavors. Nice and smooth throughout. I’ve already grabbed myself another bottle, don’t hesitate to grab one of your own!

Rating: Buy It