Easily Shafer’s greatest Merlot ever. Certainly its richest, with fabulously concentrated blackberry, cherry, licorice, chocolate and cinnamon spice flavors. All this is wrapped into extraordinarily sweet, refined tannins.
**Two Stars** Heavily extracted aromas of black cherries, dark soils, hints of licorice and scads of rich oak announce this wine's serious intentions, and it continues in the mouth with deep, ripe, layered flavors whose slight tilt to ripeness is nothing more than we have seen in virtually all Shafer releases. The key, of course, is that Shafer wines have historically shown their ability to carry the style off to perfection, and, given this bottling's depth of fruit and underlying solidity, it joins the exalted ranks of its predecessors.
The red wine program includes 10,000 cases of Merlot, but that production is decreasing in favor of the other reds. The dark ruby/purple-colored 2006 Merlot (84% Merlot, 9% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 7% Cabernet Franc) exhibits fleshy, red and black currant, bay leaf, and underbrush characteristics. Medium-bodied with sweet tannin, it should drink nicely for a decade.
A classically styled Merlot, showing appealing aromas of red currant, fresh coffee bean and spice, with supple, well-structured plum, graphite and toasty leather flavors that firm up on the finish.
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2013 Solomon Hills "Solomon Hills Vineyard" Santa Maria Valley Chardonnay (Previously $40)