Cheap Wine That Doesn't Suck: Merlot Even Miles Would Drink

"I am not drinking any fucking Merlot!" 

That was Miles Raymond in Sideways, the movie that did for Merlot what Plan 9 From Outer Space did for science fiction cinema. 

If you've tasted much domestic and Australian Merlot over the past few years, you can sympathize with Miles. Most of it, especially the affordable stuff, is just awful -- flabby, simple, stupid, as blandly grapey as something you'd spread on toast, with all the excitement of lukewarm Cream of Wheat and all the character of a politician running for reelection. Think of it as Kool-Aid for adults. 

But the 2007 Blackstone California Merlot isn't like that. Despite its almost absurd $9 price tag, it's a Merlot with balls. Sure, it delivers a big, fat hit of ripe black cherry-berry fruit, but taste a little deeper and there's hints of cloves, black olives, and an earthy-mushroomy component -- what Miles might call "terroir" -- that gives your taste buds something to chew on. With a firm tannic structure and relatively low alcohol (13.5 percent), it's a good friend to all kinds of food, especially grilled lamb, churrasco, spicy sausages, and Asian beef dishes. 

It's one fucking Merlot even Miles would drink.

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Bill Citara