Dark ruby with thin clear edges. Fairly staining. Alcohol. That’s what it smells like. Alcohol. That’s it. Complete total inundation with alcohol. I will never need to trim my nose-hairs again. It is not pepper, it is not spice, it is alcohol, plain and simple. If this thing is less than 15-oh I would be shocked. I’m guessing the label will say something like 14-8. Pushing the alcohol aside momentarily, a fat, jellied, oak and baby-diaper underbelly exposes itself.
Typically I am really cautious about decanting Merlot–fearing for the fragile and sometimes very soft fruit–but this one gets decanted HARD. It won’t help the obesity, but it might burn some alcohol. I’m over searching for a redeeming bouquet–and I feel drunk just smelling it.
In the mouth, either of a couple things are going on here. a) They set out to make the biggest blockbuster Merlot they could to dispel myths and stereotypes about the grape, or b) They are capitalizing of the fact hardly ANYONE knows what Merlot is supposed to taste like and can therefore do whatever they please. It IS Paso. They can do just about whatever they want, yeeeee-HAW! It tastes better than it smells. But not by much. An alcoholic oak-bomb with watery, over-ripe fruit. Everything disappears mid-palate and the burn of alcohol lights everything up again. The fruit-fade mid-palate is CLASSIC Merlot and what fruit there is actually DOES taste like Merlot, but that is where the accolades are going to stop. I’m not going to give a lecture on what Merlot IS–but this one misses almost COMPLETELY.
2010 NINER Merlot Paso Robles 14.8