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.