Mystery Paso Plonk

Med ruby, wide pink edges.  MASSIVE crushed-stem briary goodness,  CalTrans weed-wacking along the freeway, chipper being fed willow and eucalyptus… At first it came off fairly construed, manufactured, but it breathes out well-integrated into the ripe pomegranate fruit, caramel and maybe a touch of cat-piss.  I have never seen this label and I googled California Vintners Group, Glendale a couple weeks ago when I picked it up.  Who knows if they are actually crushing, or just buying bulk or even shiners, but they have a Rutherford Cab, this Merlot and a Paso cab, and maybe an Edna CH or something… I can’t remember.  Didn’t have much hope for it.  I would have pegged this for Alex Valley, blind.  Chalky minerality hits hard in the mouth, racing the big, warm fruit for first impression.  Bitingly acidic, tar and cassis, nutmeg and vanilla, a sage smudge paints a fat swath across it before racing off with the ample tannin–now vying for last place.  This is a great Merlot.  After the last couple days of Merlot: THING A and THING B basically competing for bookends of what I DON’T like in this variety, this thing is a welcome sight.  Don’t know who makes it; Don’t know where the fruit comes from; Don’t care… not even gonna let the Paso part bother me.  13-8   ♦♦

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