Merlot Dreams

Medium ruby out to nice pink edges. But not too pink–in smell or texture. Husky wood and cut weeds alongside beautiful fruit, smoke and wet leather, gobs of cassis and sultry ripe fruit decadent and becoming of what Merlot SHOULD be. A sharp cellar floor of petrichor winds its way through, brightening and balancing.

Found this on a huge–and well-formulated–list at a nice restaurant in Napa, lurking at bargain price and rich for the taking. One of the least-expensive bottles on the otherwise fairly blingy Napa Valley list, and I felt no shame in ordering it. I love Paradigm, and Oakville continues to impress since it became something you see on a front label. Likewise, Merlot itself lends itself wonderfully to food and–in well-made versions–stands up easily to aged Cabernets–something blingy lists either DO NOT offer, or present for ridiculous prices. Never be ashamed to order Merlot. It is often the shortest and least-represented section of the list (this 15-page list had FOUR Merlots) and quite often where the value is. This wine was DEFINITELY that case.

In the mouth, un-slutty fruit tempered with a steely shrillness carrying boatloads of lovely nectarine and not a bit flabby or over-presented. Bitter little bits of oak tannin and fruit-skin keeps everything alive and vibrant but there is no decrying the lush Paradigm trademark of elegance.

A definite Right-Bank-style bottling that shows stupidly-nice and could age for another decade easy.

2013 PARADIGM Merlot Oakville Napa Valley 14.2

paradigmwinery.com

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