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stills75 wrote:
A Lab Rat has arrived!!

My wife and I dove into this last night after making a quick trip to FedEx when I found a door tag after work. We’ve enjoyed reading everyone’s comments and questions while working today. Hopefully, we can be of some use.

First of all, we are not regular port drinkers. Normally we prefer big dry reds and crisp whites. Our previous experience was mostly bad. The California Ports/Dessert Wines we have had were very sweet and syrupy. Thankfully, this one is not!

After dinner, we opened it up and took a whiff. First impressions were raspberries and chocolate mousse. It had a nice sweet smell that mixed with ripe fruit like plum and raisin.

Pouring into our glasses, it is definitely dark, almost brownish, and brick-red around the edges. In the glass, it smelled decadent - thick, rich and heavy (can you smell that?). Again, we picked up ripe fruit and chocolate (German Chocolate Cake with Caramel).

FINALLY, our first taste:

Surprisingly, it had a light feel on the tongue and very smooth. It was still a little hot, but that went away quickly. The first taste is chocolate covered strawberries. Not too sweet and nicely balanced with some acidity. It had a nice long finish ending with ripe fruit and a little spice. It tastes like dessert all by itself.

We tried a few pairing:

Unfortunately, no bleu cheese in the house, but we tried it with some other less pungent cheese – not recommended!

Next, fresh strawberries complimented the sweetness and coaxed out more berry flavors from the wine.

Finally, of course, chocolate! JACKPOT! It definitely changed the flavor making it more chocolatety and rich without totally losing the hint of fruit.

After 30 minutes, the alcohol definitely cooled off. There was less fruit present, but it maintains a nice acidic raspberry taste. We tasted chocolate cream and cheesecake.

After 1 hour, the smell of fruit was much less. Smokey oak flavors and spice came through. The wine was much smoother now and less focused on specific smells or flavors, but maintained a rich complexity. This is the first time we could taste the zinfandel flavor. It was the perfect sipping beverage at this point and became even more enjoyable.

And then we drank it all. A definite recommendation. Pull the trigger.

Woot, thanks for this opportunity. We loved it!!

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madpoet wrote:
Hey gang, I did indeed receive a lovely little box via FedEx today. I was wondering if they had in fact overnighted my 6 liter monster as a joke, but this is even better! Wish it had come last night so I could have given it a more thorough Ratting but I do appreciate the chance and will gladly suck it up... er, drink it down and report.

I am a port lover. I don't claim to always know great port, but I've had some really really nice ones in the past and I know what I like. I've got some of the nice Wellington's sitting in my cellar waiting for age to mellow them a bit, and every once in a while I splurge on a good vintage port from my local dealer. My wife is NOT a port lover. For desert wines she prefers late harvest ice wines, so her taste runs to the syrupy.

First, nice bottle. I always like peeling wax back, makes me feel all medieval! Cracked it open and immediately I was hit with molasses. My wife thought it was more like plum, but it was definately something dark and spicy. Reminded me almost of smelling a good spiced rum. Right out of the bottle I have to say this is a lot more smooth than many ports I've had. Very, very little harshness from the alcohol. I've had some in the past that I thought would burn my tongue out of my mouth. This one basically you feel it for a second and then it's gone. On tasting I am definately in the raisin camp, but I swear I smell molases.

The wife actually didn't hate this, which for a port is a huge accomplishment. She said it was pretty smooth and not too sweet. A little tangy on the lips. She stuck with raisins/plums as the taste. I broke out some very dark 86% chocolate to have with it since I didn't have any chocolate cake lying around. Complimented it very nicely. After a small glass I was left satisfied, which is how I like it. I agree with the comment made above, I don't want to be able to guzzle my port. This is smooth enough that you could, but satisfying enough that you don't want to.

All in all I am happy I blind bought it before I even knew I was a Rat. I wouldn't feel bad drinking it now, but I might let a bottle go a year or two just to see how it changes.

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Offer of 6/24/2011 -- Gazzi Estate Vineyards Sonoma Coast 2007 Pinot Noir - 5 Pack

This offer's pack:

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bahwm wrote:
Lab Rat bahwm reporting for duty!

This has been a wonderful week wine.woot-wise. I was First Sucker to purchase the Jana Cathedral 2 - pack by Scott Harvey. First time ever as First Sucker! Wednesday evening I received an email that I had been chosen to be a Lab Rat! Woot! Plus, I am celebrating the end of my school year! I just have to go in for part of the day on Friday to finish cleaning up my classroom.

I was able to have the shipment redirected to my local FedEx Kinko’s since I wanted to be sure to get the package on Thursday. It arrived around 10 AM Eastern. I picked it up after work and found that it was a bottle of the 2007 Gazzi Estate Vineyard Sonoma Coast Sonoma Cote d’Or Pinot Noir.

I decided to pop it open while ddeuddeg & I were preparing dinner. I was immediately impressed by its lovely velvety smoothness and fruitiness. ddeuddeg thought that the flavors were that of sweet red raspberries. I could not place this flavor. It is not one of my top fruits and so this flavor is missing from my palate. I remembered that we had an unopened jar of raspberry preserves. So, à la Gary V., I took a spoon and took a small taste. There it was--the taste of perfect red raspberries! I went back to the wine, took another sip. That was definitely it!

We found that this wine was excellent on its own, as well as with food. Tonight’s dinner was a grilled spice rubbed boneless pork chop accompanied by steamed herbed vermouth red potatoes and green beans followed by the roasted garlic and pine nut spinach salad with Romano cheese. The flavors in the wines stood up to the garlic, EVOO and Romano cheese. In fact, the flavors seemed to smooth out even more. We did notice a bit more alcohol on the nose after the bottle had been opened for a while.

This is definitely a wine that could easily be a porch wine, drunk on its own or with a meal. We don’t always consider a pinot to be a porch wine. I can imagine sipping this wine under the stars while we are at our favorite local outdoor Shakespeare Festival. I love the aromas that are still lingering in my glass. This pinot is so good cheron98 might even like it!

Thanks, Scott for making yet another excellent wine! At this price point, we are definitely in for two!

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squirtbc wrote:
I had a crappy day on Wednesday. I then opened my email and to my surprise I was chosen as a Labrat! The day got much better. I got the 2007 Gazzi Pinot Noir. Never heard of them before. Thinking PN are ususaly wimpy so we tend not to get too many. When I got home DH opened the bottle and put my $6 meal in the microwave. He chose based on the fact it was a PN. Turkey roulade, green beans and potaoes. He poured us each a glass thru the aerator to help speed things up. Here are our combined notes-

Nose-cherries, jammy, a little blueberry, mild "old world" scent

Tatse-smooth, mild tannins, velvety mouthfeel, alcohol seems high but not overpowering, peppery

General-drinking pretty good right out of the bottle, possibly a bit young-maybe some more time in the bottle?, worked well with the turkey-yummy!-easy to drink without food. very sippable on its own.

After we had the first glass, I started doing a little research. I told him BEFORE I got on the computer I would buy this tomorrow it was that good. Then I started looking. I discovered Scott Harvey was the wine maker-huge plus- and that there was some Syrah added. That was what we could not put our fingers on-Syrah was added. Mystery solved. So we drank some more and discovered it got smoother as time went on. I thought there were touches of anise and more cherry. He scoffed.

All in all it is a very good bottle of wine. Not wimpy and very tasty with food or without. Very drinkable now but will save to see if it gets better in a year. Yes, before I started writing this I did buy some!

Thanks for the opportunity to enjoy this wine. Keep up the great work!

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erod408 wrote:

Hey guys, this is my first lab rat assignment.
Fair warning: I'm 23, and even though I've tried a lot of wines, I'm still figuring out what I do and don't like.
As far as Pinot Noir goes, I typically like Oregon Pinots for their bright, strawberry or cherry fruit flavors. California Pinots typically seem a little thin (even Duckhorn's Goldeneye, while good, wasn't my cup of tea).

On to the Gazzi Pinot Noir. I got home a little bit late, so this was not accompanied by food. I popped and poured through the Soiree aerator, and had a taste. At first, i got hit with this astringent taste (not the cheap wine/alcohol taste, but something along those lines). Next, I noticed this seemed quite a bit more full than other Sonoma Pinot Noir that I had tried (I later read that it has Syrah added - this totally makes sense, but I never would have guessed it).
I waited about an hour to continue, to see if that astringent taste went away. As previous rats have said, this wine improves a lot with breathing time. I was able to pick up cherries and a nice smooth finish. It's not a fruity-dance-on-your-tongue sensation like an Oregon Pinot, but there's some weight and body to the flavor.
I corked half the bottle, and I think this will improve overnight even further.

I'd recommend this to people who are looking for a bigger bodied Pinot Noir to play nice with food (someone said they made pork tenderloin with this wine - that'd be good).
It's also girlfriend approved, mine appreciated the smooth finish and probably drank more of it than I did.

My small wine cooler is full right now, but if I had room for 4 (the 5th would be drank upon delivery), I'd jump on it, as this is a great deal (plus I already have the Jana Cathedral on the way).

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cherryb wrote:

Lab rat report

This is my first wine review so hopefully it will make sense! I was surprised and excited to receive an email on Wednesday telling me that I was a lab rat! I requested that the shipment be held at my local FedEx as I wasn't going to be home on Thursday but unfortunately the driver didn't get that memo so I wasn't able to get the wine until today.

Poured the first glass through an aerator, tasted smoother than expected with hints of cherries. After leaving the it in the bottle for an hour the second glass was even smoother and the fruit flavor had developed more. We had it with pepperoni pizza (late night at work) and then on it's own and it went well with food or alone.

I like all of Scott's wines that I have tried and this is no exception.

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jimmythewoot wrote:(Lab Rat Report)

This is an interesting wine. When I first poured it, it was very bright, very peppery, maybe a tad acidic. Not your regular Pinot Noir. In fact, I wasn't crazy about the first taste. But it softens considerably after an hour or so, and settles into a very smooth drink. My wife and I debated how much plum we detected -- and maybe a hint of leather -- but the cherry starts to assert itself once it opens up. Cherry and oak and a little anise, I think...

I have the feeling this could sit in the bottle for another year. Is that unusual for a Pinot? And it seemed to me that it would go well with a BLT. (My wife rolled her eyes at that one and accused me of going all City Slickers on her.)

You definitely want to give this one plenty of time to breathe. (Forget about the Vinturi; we tried that. It needs to sit in a glass, or maybe a carafe.) It keeps getting better and better, and I could swear there's something new to taste each time. See? Chocolate that time. And fig. And yeah, I'd pull the trigger.

Edit: I should have mentioned that I was a lab rat... And I stayed up an extra hour just to see how many more flavors would emerge. All in all, it was a fun bottle, and I wound up pulling the trigger. But let me reinforce this: Give the wine time to breathe!

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Offer of 7/1/2011 -- Pedroncelli Mixed White / Rosé Case

6 2009 Sauvignon Blanc East Side Vineyard Dry Creek Valley
6 2009 Dry Rosé of Zinfandel Dry Creek Valley Sonoma

This offer's pack:
confusedemmy (Sauvignon Blanc)
speakerscott (Rosé)
knotworking (Rosé)
u142461 (Sauvignon Blanc)
timmyjwoot (Sauvignon Blanc)

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confusedemmy wrote:

Ooh! A late night email notification! But wait! I'm working tomorrow morning when FedEx comes! So, I put a sticky on the door saying I'll be home at noon. Of course, when I get home, there is a door tag from FedEx saying they were by at 10:00am. I'll be home tomorrow morning, though, so it will have to be a late labrat report... but this is Texas, so it might be a labrat report on cooked wine, but there's not much I can do.

At about 1:45, the FedEx truck (gasp) COMES BACK!!! I thank him profusely, sign for my package and bring it in and open it up! There's my golden ticket!! My golden ticket!!! I smile at the free bottle of wine and place it in the refrigerator. I smile at the irony that the bottle that I will be ratting happens to be from one of the 4 California labels that I used to sell when I was a wine consultant for a French importer/distributor in NY. An old friend, indeed.

I come home from a short meeting, dinner is finishing in the oven and I crack the Stelvin on the bottle of Pedroncelli Dry Creek Valley East Side Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc 2009 and pour some into a glass. I personally adore screwcaps (especially in restaurant settings when the waiter tries to open them with a corkscrew) and I'm glad to see Pedroncelli is using them. I grab a glass and pour myself a goodly amount and then run around the house trying to find a blank piece of paper so that I can see a good color contrast.

Paper found, I determine that the color of the wine is a pale straw, with green and gray glints showing in the shadows.

A big sniff shows me a surprisingly floral nose with some green apple, maybe a little reticent, but who wouldn't be after spending 6 hours in a FedEx truck in Texas? In summer??

A sip at 7:50 gives me more of that crisp, clean green apple with some lemon and grapefruit... maybe even some pineapple hints. The wine has mouthwatering acidity and finishes cleanly with some minerals. Very nice round mouthfeel, and I'm getting almost a spritzy feeling - wonderful when the heat index outside is somewhere around 103, let me tell you.

8:10, I'm still sipping and as the glass is warming up, the wine is showing more citrus notes - the grapefruit is still not too prominent, though. Lemon peel is coming through, the minerals are still showing and the nose is still reticent.

8:45 and glass 2. The spritz seems to be mostly gone, the apple-citrus character is holding court. My husband looks at me writing notes and proclaims the wine "crisp and well-balanced with a hint a grapefruit - a perfect summer white". So, y'all get the labrat times 2!

Pedroncelli is a solid producer; I was pleased to sell them and am pleased to drink them. The SB is a fine example, and I recall the Dry Rose of Zin is really yummy. Even though I'm at the stage of having to exchange up in size on wine racks, I'm in! So glad to see this mixed case, I might be in for 2!

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speakerscott wrote:

I got to labrat the Rose.

Short Verion:

Good wine, very tasty, try some.

Medium Version:

Color of bright pink/red. Aromas of bright red fruit, strawberries and a hint of candied sour cherry on the nose. Front palate is a big attack of the same red fruit notes as on the nose, mid palate start showing some earthier, grassier notes. Finish is not particularly strong, but this is where many wines at this price point go wrong. They show a flaw, something out of whack this one didn't. There wasn't much there but it was good.

I don't like to give out scores, WS gave this 88 points, and while most times I look at scores and react "too high" or "too low", this one got "about right."


speakerscott wrote:
Longer Version:

Okay, so here's the deal, I got the email and I was soooo excited. Then I got the box and I was soooo excited. Then I opened the box and I was soooo eh? Wha? That's it? I get picked and my wine is an inexpensive Rose? From California? I pretty much only like French Rose, California rose wine takes like fake weird bubble gum waaaaay to often. Oh well it's free, though they aren't going to like my review. I figured I'd use more of it for industrial uses or home uses like cleaning windows or whacking zombies in the head with the bottle.

Then I drank it. And so did a buddy of mine who had pretty much the same reaction as I did.


Then we drank some more.


Then we got burgers and fries and drank more....

Then we looked over and..bottle empty.

We, liked the wine. A lot. It went down...soooo easy. Fun drinker wine. I don't know how the other half of the mixed case will hold up it's end of the deal, but the rose is great.


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knotworking wrote:
First time LabRat checking in.

Oh, the sense of irony in the wootwine gods; I was just complaining to my wife last weekend about never, despite buying copious amounts of woot wine over the last few years, being chosen as a rat. Lo' and behold, my complaints must have been heard and my time is now at hand.

I received the Pedroncelli Dry Rosé to review. We were having dinner last night with a fellow wine-loving couple so, I brought the bottle along with me to share in the good fortune. Background on the drinking habits of the group, we are all avid wine drinkers. I personally love it all, from Gerwertz to Cab Franc, I can appreciate a sweet white as well as a bone-dry red. The rest of the group tends to stay in the Chardonnay yard for their whites and the Cab-Pinot-Zin fold for their reds (I broaden their horizons with new choices as often as possible).

We are in the Florida heat so, I decided this chilled wine would be a good "sitting outside on the porch as the sun goes down" lead-in to dinner (with chips & hummus) vs. accompanying the meal itself (burgers on the grill). For fun, I downloaded and printed up several wine scoring sheets for them to fill out: WineEvaluationChart.pdf

So, I cracked the top and poured 4 glasses of the Rosé (chilled to just under 60 degrees) to begin the tasting. All of us were excited about this one, each recalling the last time they had a Rosé (several years ago on a Sonoma tasting tour for myself and my wife). The beautiful blush color was very rich & enticing. Upon holding the glass up to inspect the appearance, I noticed a multitude of tiny bubbles coating the bottom of the glass. The rest of the group noticed the same bubbles present in their glasses. We each sampled the aroma several times, notes of a floral bouquet, someone said rose but I'm thinking violet. Also light red berries, mostly cranberry. Restrained bouquet for me, in any case.

Up next, the tasting. Upon first sip, all I got was fizz. I swirled the glass several times sharply to release the CO2 and had another sip. Still a whole lot of bubbles coming at my tongue, all I can make out otherwise is the heat from the alcohol. The rest of the group went on quietly tasting for a minute or two (I asked them to keep their notes to themselves) when, one of them says they think the bottle might have undergone a second fermentation. I was in agreement with the idea from the bubbles and the heat but, there is no sediment or hazy appearance that would support the case for a second fermentation in the bottle. In any case, there was a large amount of CO2 in the wine. My fellow tasters abandon their tasting cards and glasses at this point (two cards scoring a total of 8 and the other a 9), deciding to move inside and onto a Cab; I join them but, save the remains of the bottle to sample later.

At the end of the evening (4 hours later), I decided to give the Rosé a few shakes of the bottle and another try. The carbonation had dissipated. The wine is very dry and there is a mouth-coating warmth that follows the sip (nothing so strong as a whiskey burn but, a similar sensation). There are some nice berry flavors present but, the dominant characteristics are the alcohol and a flat spot where the carbonation used to be (reminds me of the dry Sherry I cook with). I can only think something must have gone wrong in the process for this bottle. Hopefully the other ratters notes can balance out what you should expect.

Well, that's it. Loved being a rat, love wine.woot!

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u142461 wrote:


PEDRONCELLI Dry Creek Vally Sauvignon Blanc - East Side Vineyards 2009

I received my bottle yesterday and called in the best "white" girls (as opposed to A"red" girls) from my wine club.

We tasted the wines with a variety of foods selected based on wine pairing experience as a chef. I made a Insalata Caprese (home-grown tomatoes and basil and fresh mozarella), horseradish deviled eggs, avocados stuffed with shrimp salad, supremely spicy hummus with pita pita chips, ham and cheddar omelette, and fresh peaches, blueberries and Granny Smith apples.

The color was very transparent light yellow almost glass-like

Nose was nectarines with citrus-y tones. The citrus was a lemon or grapefruit zest instead of the fruit scents. A bit grassy and herbaceous.

The flavor (without the aid of food pairings) was crisp and refreshing; almost effervescent feel. The definite overtone was the nectarine. Undertones of summery herbs like lemon basil or lemon verbena. Taste pretty nasty with the Granny Smith apple, but delish with the blueberries, peaches and Insalata Caprese. Spicy hummus tasted before the wine overpowered the flavors, but the wine was so refreshing. Overall, we would highly recommend this Sauvignon Blanc as it is not overpoweringly grapefruity and citrusy like most California Sauv Blancs. The nectarine,and lemon or grapefruit zest overtones and herbal overtones really make this a lovely, crisp, refreshing, summertime sipping wine or guzzling wine!

Thanks woot for the opportunity to try this wine!

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timmyjwoot wrote:

Sauvignon Blanc

I'm a Charlie Bucket Head! I had no warning of this, but I went downstairs to answer a ring at the door bell this morning and there was the FedEx guy with a box roughly the size of a single bottle of wine. Knowing what it might be, and what today's offer was, I was hoping for the SB. I'm familiar with the Rose and this weekend I'd already thought that I'd likely either go in on the woot offer or, depending on the quality of the impressions of the SB, just buy a 6 pack of the Rose from the winery directly.

I honestly don't have much to add to the previous reviews of the SB. There was a definite spritz to it- the wine almost made a "opening a can of soda" sound when I unscrewed the cap. But it wasn't overwhelming and actually added something pleasant to the wine. Past that it was the classic grass & citrus profile common to SB. At this point I'm not totally sure how I'll play things. The SB was good, but not so good that I feel I have to have a 1/2 case of it.

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Offer of 7/8/2011 -- Oberon 2009 Sauvignon Blanc - 6 Pack

This offer's pack:

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perronps wrote:
Remarks from a red wine loving lab rat: strong pear nose. Seems sweet but quickly goees tart and finishes nicely. It could be a crowd pleaser as my white wine friend likes it but wouldn't mind it sweeter and I like it because it isn't too sweet. I'd like to pair it with some shellfish on the grill. Working out as a nice lunch wine today...

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payhel wrote:
Lab rat here: drank 2 glasses last night and it was okay but I am not getting all the made up fruit stuff listed on the bottle or in the opening monologue. I wanted it to be great, after all how often do you get a free bottle wine showing up on the doorstep? Damn that's a good thing. My take: more to the heavy side of Sauvigon Blancs with a tart edge and slightly heavy after taste and tingle due to the ethanol content. Not really that fruity. BUT, After 30 years of drinking wine, I still can't make up all the descriptive things attributed to wine, so, analytically, if you like a tart wine with a kick buy it. I'll drink the rest tonight and if my opinion changes I come back and say so.

Thanks for the wine wine.woot.

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cynthylee wrote:
Woo hoo! Got my first Golden Ticket. How fun. Hubby called to tell me Sauvignon Blanc--I told him to put it in the fridge. I enlisted the folks to assist in Rattage. Mom sliced up a lovely apple, white cheddar cheese and broke up some pieces of her graham flatbread. I brought smoked salmon.

The wine is a lovely pale yellow. My first taste started tart with a smoothish finish. The smokiness of the salmon complemented the tang of the wine. Out of all the food pairings, the subtle sweetness of the graham flatbread brought out more fruit in the wine. Alone or with a nibble, this is a very nice summer sipper. I liked it alot.

Mom's comments: With the first taste, the crisp flavor of the fruit attacks the palette immediately. A definite tang lingers on the tongue and produces a warm somewhat spicey finish. The nose was not distinct. Very pleasant, drinkable on its own; however, may not fold up with food.

Dad's comments: Not so fruity. Nice tang. Flavor stands by itself no matter what cheese or fruit is taken with it.

Overall, we all enjoyed the wine and the opportunity to LabRat! Thanks again.

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Offer of 7/15/2011 -- White Oak Vineyards 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon - 3 Pack

This offer's pack:

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specvic wrote:

Lab Rat SpecVic reporting in:

White Oak Cabernet Sauvignon 2006
7% Merlot 3% Cab Franc
Having a bottle of wine delivered to Phoenix at a perfect temperature in July is nearly impossible…but wine.woot made it happen! A great way to start the day.
Well, lets get right down to it…. I let it sit in my wine fridge-a-madjiggy (63 degrees) for the afternoon and decanted it for about 30 minutes before enjoying. The alcohol is at 14.5% and was noticeable in the nose. My first taste was dark red fruit and cassis (more cassis than fruit). The tannins aren't too harsh and linger…which I like. I don’t like to feel like I’m chewing on the barrel but I like to know I'm drinking wine. On the lingering finish, I got plum and black cherry. The alcohol makes its presence known on the nose and finish only... and its gone quickly on the finish to let you enjoy the rest. With some salami and crackers it hit the spot this afternoon.
I really enjoyed how this wine stuck around with the plum and cherry but wasn't fruit forward at all. I would buy it at a $20-25 retail price point. A good deal at this price for sure.

SpecVic Out!

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mobrien05 wrote:

Disclaimer 1: I am a professional wine taster with years of experience.

Disclaimer 2: At least one of these two disclaimers is very false.

Tasting: White Oak Vineyards 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon

Being very busy this weekend, I had to take a long lunch in order to taste the wine. Yes, it is a tough life. I was able to convince two others to help me in the tasting. I had to twist their arms, and call in some favors, but alas they caved. But they promised not to enjoy themselves. We went to a nice little restaurant located close to campus (I'm a life long student). We sat outside in the LA sunshine, sipping a nice little wine, and enjoyed life. Btw, life is much better when you are drinking wine at noon.

Conditions: The wine was at room temperature as I had just picked it up from the mail room. For here, that'd probably be in the 70's. Since we were at a restaurant, no Vinturi or decanter were used. But I made sure our lunch was long enough to taste the cab throughout an hour and half of time.

One of my friends said it looked like grape juice, and smelled like fermented grape juice. He concluded it must be wine. Very helpful. But he did enjoy it.

The other friend said he enjoyed it quite a bit. He thought it wasn't very tannic, which surprised him.

I thought that initially the wine was a little tight and very reserved. I agreed that the tannins were very light. It was medium bodied and easy drinking. There wasn't a lot of fruit, and it was a little dusty. It opened nicely as the lunch went by, and I thought it was very enjoyable. It wasn't bold though, which is typically what I like from my juice. It was nicer to drink on its own than with my meal (I ate a buffalo chicken sandwich, but it wasn't spicy).

Overall, it is an enjoyable sipper. In my view, there were no defining characteristics--it is a mellow and subtle, well balanced wine. It is drinking well right now, and I could imagine it pairing well with a lightly glazed pork-chop. However, I prefer something more bold. I think if you like this style, you'll enjoy this wine. If I had to throw a number on it, I'd say 89. Not that I know what numbers mean...

For comparison, varietals I like: Petite sirah, cabernet franc, cabernet sauvignon.

Some wines that I like: Twisted Oak Temp, TyTanium, Pedroncelli Zin

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ckucic wrote:

My first lab rat report.

Opening the bottle, it smelt floral. It gives you high anticipation of a great wine. I let it breath for an hour in the bottle. First pour and it still smelt wonderful. The first sip was tight, slightly bitter and tannic. I am no expert but I think this wine will hold well for a few more years.
After letting it sit in the glass for about 30 minutes it opened up well. It taste young but good. I taste cherry in the wine.
I wish the wine was more delicate for its age. It is very drinkable and at this price point I find it a good value.

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snichouse wrote:

Lab Rat Report

Happy to be giving my first Lab Rat review! I am certianly not a wine expert, so to help in my taste test my husband, daughter and I opened a different bottle of cabernet sauvignon for compairision. After letting both bottles breath for an hour we poured a glass of each wine. I did not tell them which wine was which.

The overwhelming winner was the White Oak Cabernet Sauvignon 2006!

It had a wonderful bouquet, but not overwhelming. It was very smooth on the tongue with no after taste. Or as my husband said "like a good friend who comes to visit but does not stay to long!"

You wont be disapointted if you buy this Wine Woot!

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Offer of 7/22/2011 -- Calcareous Vineyards 2007 Red - 3 Pack

2007 Calcareous Vineyards Estate Tres Violet
2007 Calcareous Vineyards Meritage
2007 Calcareous Vineyards Estate Reserve Syrah

This offer's pack:
jackmcdowell (Tres Violet)
jbohonow (Syrah)
ckkmiller (Syrah)
avatar0v (Meritage)

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jackmcdowell wrote:

2007 Tres Violet

cork: purple, smells slightly of fresh berries.
color: maroon, looks deep and thick.
nose: alcohol, berries, jammy. After decanting a bit of an oak smell comes out. (fiancee says, it smells like an expensive cocktail -- as if one were to mix strawberries and raspberries with Vodka and sugar)

initially young, a bit rough with a slight bitter aftertaste. Flavored like tart berries.

after airing out for about 30 minutes the roughness dissipates and more complex flavors come out, but it is still dominated by sweet fruity flavors and oak with a hint of clove. Aftertaste is fruity, citrusy taste.

additional thoughts: the wine tastes young but seems to have a lot of potential, the flavors should develop and integrate better and the harshness should diminish.
Airing it out, either in the bottle or decanting it is a must at the moment to appreciate the wine's character.

If anyone is curious about this wine, feel free to ask me any questions or read the reviews on cellar tracker (and not the winery's website) as they seem to approximate our impressions.

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jbohonow wrote:

What started as a not so great week suddenly brightened with the appearance of a mysterious box on my desk yesterday morning! I opened it to find the highly sought after golden ticket and a bottle of the 2007 Calcareous Vineyards Estate Reserve Syrah.

Since everyone at work saw my good fortune, I decided to pop the cork that afternoon and get lots of opinions. First off...everyone LOVED IT, wine drinkers and non-drinkers both. A variety of comments below...keep in mind...some are from non-winos...

"smells like a bouquet of roses"
"very smooth with a touch of pepper and spice"
"just the right amount of dry"
"very well balanced...just the right amount of tannins, fruit, and alcohol"
"smells like jam"
"this would be great by the fireplace"

Brought the remaining half bottle home to share with hubby and he was also a fan.

Overall...rave reviews! Very drinkable right now. Can stand on its own, but would also be great with food (maybe some lamb?). The fruit really came forward even more after ~10-15 minutes in the glass.

Have a great weekend!

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ckkmiller wrote:

2007 Calcareous Vineyards Estate Reserve Syrah

LABRAT Miller here
Up for a late nite sniff
Minerals and black cherry
Cassis and a roasted barley whiff

As I say when I speak
Of the great Robles vine
“It’s so Paso, you know”
I speak as if it’s mine

Enjoy the earthiness,
the deep inky purple/red
Of a wine that has open arms
Bold, mellow – come to bed

It’s a Paso for goodness sake
It’s got secrets galore
Sip it. Savor it.
The longer you chillax, the more.

It’s a solid Syrah, without a doubt
Big at first, mellow with a swirl
Go ahead and buy it now.
Share it with your Big Red Girl.

I did, and she REALLY iked it!!!!


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avatar0v wrote:

I was surprised to see a FedEx truck pull up with a small box Thursday afternoon, but glad to see it was a bottle of Calcareous Meritage! Happy to be a labrat, and opened up the bottle on Friday, pouring through the Vinturi to give it some air.

Noticeable sediment around the cork and initial feel is very jammy, but smooth. After the first glass, it really gets dry on the palette but the blackberry flavor stayed around for awhile. Shared half the bottle over dinner of balsamic chicken and the Meritage definitely stood up to the vinegar.

I recorked the bottle and went back to it again today, have to say the second day is much better. There is still a strong jam and berry taste but it mellows out on the aftertaste. It was thoroughly enjoyed, sipping slowly with smoked hen and tomatoes.

Kudos to ckkmiller for a much better post!

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Offer of 7/29/2011 -- Handley Cellars Pinot Noir & Pinot Gris - 3 Pack

2 2007 Pinot Noir Anderson Valley
1 2009 Pinot Gris Anderson Valley

This offer's pack:
natergatorfan (Pinot Gris)
utahtina (Pinot Noir)
jaymsmith (Pinot Gris)
EJRothman (Pinot Noir)
arthurz (Pinot Gris)
pheasantdog (Pinot Noir)
OoWillz (Pinot Noir)

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natergatorfan wrote:
First time labrat reporting for duty!

I was very excited to unbox this offering at work and discover it was a white varietal as I've been laden with reds and its summertime; I should be relaxing with a white! That said, I ask for forgiveness as I just started antibiotics for a sinus infection today, so my super nose is letting me down just a tad. To ensure a level playing field I enlisted the help of my roommate and our de-facto go to Pinot, Santa Margherita, as a yardstick. With that out of the way on to my sampling of the 2009 Handley Pinot Gris:

Color: A nice crystal clear, almost pale lemon color. Surprisingly I'd swear I saw a few bubbles (I'll get to this aspect in a minute). In other news this is a white wine.

Nose: very pleasant if not a tiny bit muted; it was not as forward as the SM, but I felt it developed more and was pretty darn pleasing. Smooth and not overly sweet, the nose was actually almost reminiscent of a viognier. I did get the pineapple described, as well as a bit of kiwi (!), and a touch of fresh cut sweet hay. I felt like I could pick up a bit of minerality but couldn't quite identify it with my broken super nose, and my roommate did not get it at all. Not too much in the way of floral notes, though maybe a dab of honeysuckle.

Mouthfeel: The acidity is not overwhelming, it balances well with the tropical sweetness to my taste. There is an immediate, almost carbonic hit on the tongue when you first sip, and I swear I saw a few bubbles of CO2 in the glass when I agitated it... I actually liked this aspect but my roommate was not a fan of this. This goes from a really nice crisp/light sipper when a bit cold to a light/medium wine with a few minutes to warm up a touch.

Tongue Tingling Taste: Tropical fruit are definitely present; a tart almost key lime flavor washes over your palette as your first cold swish swirls around. The sweetness is a bit more present in the mouth than on the nose, but again to my taste not overwhelming. The wine stood up well paired with my bow-tie pasta with tomato, chicken, and a bit of fresh cut dried cayenne... I was worried the spice might overwhelm a pinot but it stood up just fine... though I wish I had some sea bass to try it with as I feel a white fish would make a better pairing. Compared with the SM I felt like the Handley was slightly bolder but a touch less complex... honestly I'll accept less complexity for a balance of crisp refreshingness. The relatively high alcohol content is not overpowering to my taste, I would have guessed it somewhere around 13.6-13.9%.

I enjoyed this Pinot quite a bit, and have half a bottle left to sample tomorrow. I plan to match it up with some camembert (a customary snack) and a few apple slices, and I may put it up against a bottle of Triacipedis and the Minotaur’s Chalice for a further point of reference. I feel like a bit of oxygen could help balance the wine slightly, but I'll update tomorrow evening when I find out.

My Verdict: As the cheaper of the bottles in this offering, I think this Pinot Gris still stands up admirably. It's worth a shot if you're bored with what your local offers or if you like a sharp honeyed white on a hot summer's day. I'm not a through-and-through white wine guy, so I probably wouldn't buy it by the case, but I'd put it in my rotation. If I hadn't just bought 6 bottles of X Pinot Nior on Tuesday I'd "no-brainer" buy this to try the Pinot Nior given that I liked the Pinot Gris. I'll wait to see what the other labrats say about the Nior though given our incompetent politicians may put a further squeeze on my wallet next week.

My Roommate's Verdict (for what it's worth, after some libation): "Tropical, pineapple, with a hint of nepotism on the nose." =P

Oh, and lassow is right, the bottle is too tall to fit on the shelf in my fridge. That's all for now from the East Coast, I better sleep before work! I'll update tomorrow with any notable developments and I hope this has been an informative first labrat experience. Cheers!

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utahtina wrote:
From a first time lab rat. And I'm scared because I'm not a blogger, in general. I try to keep my opinions to myself...

I tried the Pinot Noir last night and will try it again tonight and will post a "Day 2" observation. First off, please forgive my pedestrian wine language. I'm not a sommelier and while I love and drink wine, I don't know all the proper language.

The bottom line, which I'll put close to the top, is that this is a DEAL. The two bottles Pinot Noir alone would probably cost about the asking price of the three.

But, about the Pinot Noir DAY I:

On the nose - cherries? Berries? It's subtle - doesn't knock you over the head.

Palate: Jeez, here I go. Okay, so the finish was smooth. Soft. (can I say soft?) There's acid too, but not too much, not too little - quite balanced. The alcohol seems high for a Pinot - over 14%. So, there's a more body that I'd expect in a Pinot. It's delicious. I'm buying the 3-pack, after tasting it. Well worth it.

I drank this alone (yes, I was alone, but so was the wine - I didn't pair it with anything - I was too excited). I will try it with a couple of cheeses tonight.

I have no idea what else to say without sounding like a plebe.

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jaymsmith wrote:
Good morning everyone!

My wife and I had the honor to be a first-time lab rat for the Handley Cellars Pinot Gris.

We were both excited to see that it was a nice white wine, perfect for a beautiful Minnesota summer evening.

As soon as it was opened I put it in the fridge to chill so we could enjoy it with supper.

When first opened it had nice fruity aroma; quite appealing. I poured us each a glass and the fun began. The first taste was very pleasing to the palette. The first taste revealed a nice fruity undertone on top of a smooth mild-bodied wine. I seemed to latch onto a slight bit of a peach taste. The wine also had a perfect sweetness to it. It was neither sugary nor dry, but very enjoyable!

As we enjoyed the wine with our supper, we both mentioned that is seemed it had a hint of carbonation or fizz to it. It definitely wasn't bubbly like champagne, but there seemed to be something there.

The wine was enjoyed during dinner and even more enjoyed during a beautiful evening outside by the fire.

Overall, the wine was very good. A nice white wine that was not dry or too sweet. It has a nice fruity peach undertone and was a pleasure to drink. It was an easy wine to enjoy and I hope to have more in the future!

Thanks Hadley Cellars!

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EJRothman wrote:

I haven't been super active in the wine.woot community so I was a bit surprised (pleasantly so) to be selected as a lab rat for the Pinot Noir! I received the wine yesterday evening when I returned home and haven't had a chance to taste it yet - but will do so over the weekend and report back.

One issue on the slight fizziness noted on the Pinot Gris bottles from the other lab rats - I tend not to drink a bottle for a week or two after it's been shipped, as I believe in bottle shock from all the banging around during shipment. I've had wines, both red and white, that were overly fizzy right after shipment.

I recognize this defeats the purpose of the Lab Rat program, but it is a limitation IMO.

In any event, I look forward to this experiment and will report back!


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arthurz wrote:

I was very excited to get a bottle of the Pinot Gris from FedEx yesterday for lab rattage. Unfortunately I was going out to dinner with friends (and not to a BYOB). However, I popped the bottle into the fridge for later. Luckily I had today off and in an effort to take my duties seriously, and under the theory that its five o'clock somewhere, I poured a glass to have with lunch.

The color is a pale yellow and the wine has a pleasant aroma of peach and pineapple. I also feel that I get just a hint of oak on the nose.

On the tongue I picked up the, ever so slight, hint of fizz mentioned by the other reviewers. It wasn't unpleasant and seemed to disappear as the wine warmed in the glass. Straight out of the fridge it came across as crisp and refreshing and became somewhat more creamy as it was exposed to air and got a little warmer.

The peach continued on the palate along with a touch of sweetness that was pleasant, even to a person like me who primarily enjoys dry white wines. I also tend to prefer reds over whites but this wine had a very full mouthfeel and went down very very easily. It was a nice sipper on its own and I would also think that it could pair well with a variety of foods. A very nice warm weather wine.

I would certainly not have any reservations about recommending this wine. Thanks, Woot, for the chance to review it!

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pheasantdog wrote:

Labrat número many reporting in. I got the Pinot Noir in yesterday so my wine drinking friend and I will offer our uneducated palates of concete for you.

Color is a beautiful claret similar to my girlfriends favorite lipstick until my dog ate it. She put some wine on her lips but it wasn't the same. Until she licked it off. When we swirled it in my riedel stems the legs reminded of the girl dancing on the brass pole last evening. I almost couldn't take my eyes off them!

Nose reminded me of an earthy mix of black berries and raspberries. Lots of fruit.

Tasting was even more amazing. The same fruit showed up on my tongue and after I gulped it down, I could still taste it two minutes later. My girlfriend wishes I could last as long as the wine finishes.

We're going to let it sit for a bit and try it again.

More to come!

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OoWillz wrote:

First Time LabRat here. Looks like a lot of first timers from a glance at the board. Sorry for the late reply here, but in my defense I did email my comments to Terry at WCC yesterday!

Well before I delve into the details, just wanted to say thanks woot! you brightened up my day with one of the best foodie wines I have ever had!

This is my first experience as a Lab Rat and I am 22 years old, so apologies in advance if my description below is lacking. Having gone to school in Montreal, my experience and love is with the french cotes du rhone villages and bordeaux styles.

I sniffed the bottle and it immediately gave the impression of depth, character, and richness over the other Pinor Noirs I have had. In fact, it would hold its own against any varietal. I liken the smell to a great mouthy steak glaze. In fact I know a steak at Del Friscos that has waited its entire life to meet this smell.

When poured into a glass I smelled some alcohol, but in a sweet and not overpowering way. First sip and slosh opened my eyes - this is not your 2 buck chuck. It had this complex taste that I couldn't put my finger on, but it was good. I could taste a hint of fruit, but like jamba juice not overpowering jam. The wine is crying desperately for a steak that I do not have. After polishing off the glass, I can't hold back the frustration that I do not have steak. This wine is a SWMBO, it will let you know what it wants.

30 minutes in a decanter and the smell of alcohol is gone; it no longer screams for steak, but for cheese. How amazing would this be with a beautiful piece of Brie/Camembert and a slice of sopressata or other dried meat right now. The winemaker must be a genius, since he made this wine scream for the greatest foods. Now I am starving and frustrated.

[30 minutes later]
Went out and got some sopressata and cut it with my slicer. This is incredible. the spice fits perfectly with the clean beautiful taste of the wine. My mother is not a wino by any means, but what she said translates to: Mmm, other wines are harsh/acidic at first, but this is different. You can immediately tell this is quality.

This is what wine should be: A good time with a bit of mystery, character, and class. I want to date this wine. (Don't tell my girlfriend).
First: Mystery with hints of jamba juice. Second: NEED STEAK. Third: NEED CHEESE + jambajuice.

Overall, this is a solid buy and I would not hesitate to go in for the pinot noir alone. If you happen to have a bunch of dry aged steaks lying around, this is your winner. My value guess was $45 retail and $25 woot. Looks like we've got quite a deal here!!!

//Clarification $45/$25 per bottle, not deal.

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Offer of 8/5/2011 -- Oberon 2008 Napa Valley Merlot - 4 Pack

This offer's pack:

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catluvwine wrote:
Good morning! Thank you Woot for providing me this opportunity!

I was so excited with I received notice of the golden ticket yesterday. Yet, at the same time nervous that I would be able to report my tasting in a manner that would help the community. While I've never posted before, I read these forums constantly and they have helped me purchase and enjoy many fine wines.

I was selected to taste the Oberon Napa Valley Merlot 2008. Oh dear, a Merlot. Merlot is my least favorite red wine. However, in the past I've gone back to varietals that I've not been fond of and in trying them again, found that my tastes have changed. Normally, I tend to veer in reds towards bold or complex wines. I love Ty Canton, Wellington, Corison, Rasmussen, etc. I have a weak spot for a good Australian Shiraz as well.

The tasters tonight were my husband and I.
Tasting notes:

Upon opening we detected notes of dark cherry. The initial taste was very dry and tight without any flavor that I could detect.
We poured the wine into a decanter and started our dinner. Dinner consisted of a rosemary marinated steak, grilled mixed vegetables and corn on the cob.

We decanted the wine over an hour and then had another small taste before dinner was ready. The wine was opening and I could slightly taste the dark cherry I had detected earlier but very little else. 20 minutes later we were ready to eat. We each had a half glass before we started eating.

I could no longer detect the cherry in the swirl as I did previously. When I sipped, I could taste the cherry and some spice (my husband said cinnamon but I'm not sure that is it). The middle was smooth but nothing jumped out at me to describe. The finish had a touch of acidity and tannis, but very little else. We started eating and found that while the wine did not detract or overpower the steak, it also did not enhance it either. I wish I could describe more flavors or complexity, but they just weren't there. Maybe that is how a Merlot is supposed to taste? We finished our glasses and then funneled it back and sealed the bottle to try again tonight. If there is a difference I'll post again.

It is an OK wine, but for me, there are better wines out there for the price that I enjoy more.

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stormn1 wrote:
Labrat Report:

Getting the golden ticket made up for what was an otherwise carpy day at work (which is where I get my wine shipped). After framing the golden ticket, I proceeded to pour two small glasses for tasting through my vinturi. Nice dark ruby color. Nose was a bit of alcohol and cherry. Decanted half the bottle and proceeded to taste the merlot. Definite dark cherry tastes and SWMBO, mostly a white wine drinker, agreed with the cherry and thought there were some notes of pepper. Had a few pieces of cheese, aged cheddar and manchego as an appetizer with it while I fixed dinner. The menu was already decided, broiled sockeye salmon, potatoes au gratin, and steamed broccoli. I added a little of a spicy teriyaki marinade to the fish, figuring the merlot could stand up.

Dinner prep took about 45 minutes. The wine began opening up, though the distinct cherry notes kind of got lost into other berry flavors. Decent acidity. Smooth tannins at the end. The merlot worked well with the salmon but didn't knock my sock(eye) off (sorry bad pun).

Will try the rest of the wine tonight sans food and will update with any changes. My initial thoughts are it's an okay wine, better with food, probably grilled or broiled, either chicken, salmon, or pork but not hearty enough to stand up to steaks.

I appreciate the opportunity to try this. Hopefully, the review isn't too horrible (having said that, my goal is to get to 100 purchases without a quality post!). Don't know if I'm going to buy yet. Debating. Will update on that too. Thanks, Woot and WineDavid.

Update: 2d night with rest of wine was uneventful. Okay merlot, esp with food but doesn't really stand out on its own. Gonna pass on the offer - too many chances and oppty's for something better at this price point.

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drunkmonk wrote:

LABRAT REPORT: My first opportunity to be a labrat! I am excited, and I admit I was a little nervous as I drank this wine because I knew I'd have to report back in writing, something I'm not at all accustomed to with wine.

I had the benefit of reading two Labrat reports before I opened my bottle, so as soon as I got home I opened it, poured myself a glass, and decanted the rest. On opening the bottle, the wine was a beautiful ruby color and had a rich cherry and currant aroma. However, the aroma was the best part - the wine tasted a little thin to me. The label remarks on its velvety finish, which is certainly true. There's only a hint of fruit at first, very little flavor (other than alcohol) through the middle, and then a thick, velvety texture to the finish that lingers impressively.

Dinner menu was already grilled mahi-mahi and sweet potato fries, so I added a little cumin to the fish and cinnamon to the potatoes in hopes of challenging the merlot. After the wine was decanted for about an hour and a half, and there was food on the table, the Oberon had opened up a lot. Surprisingly, the fruit aroma was mostly gone, and the cherry I'd originally tasted turned into more of a subtle, rich plum flavor. The thick, almost cobwebby finish was still there, although a lot of the tannins had calmed down. I kept hoping that the wine would gain more flavor up front, but it never did, and I think it actually got overpowered a little, rather than just softened, by dinner.

Overall, I'd say that at this price, it's a decent Merlot, and you could serve it without compunction to a friend. But I would mostly just say it's "OK." Some caveats, though: I am mostly a shiraz/syrah drinker, not a merlot drinker, and this summer I've been drinking whites and roses so this is actually the first red wine I've had in about three months.*

Thank you WineDavid39 and Wine.Woot for this chance to be a labrat! It was fun, and it also meant I got to drink a whole bottle of wine because my wife didn't want any wine tonight. Huzzah! And thanks to you Wooters for reading - I hope this was marginally helpful.

*Scary red wine recently served to me at a wedding dinner notwithstanding.

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