Grapevines are tough and durable. Their roots reach 20-30 feet into the ground and they can survive in conditions that would starve other plants. But the Merlot grape must be the most resilient. It’s taken such a beating. I’m not just referring to recent references in the media, turning Merlot lovers into pinot lovers. Sadly, these people missed a brilliant Merlot metaphor, making it the idol over its temperamental bud. It’s also had a tough time throughout history because of overplanting, overproduction, and the substandard quality that comes with anything that’s overproduced.

Yet, it remains a favorite when it’s done right. I can’t just buy blind; I have to try a Merlot before I buy. But the A. Rafanelli consistently hits the mark. Dave Rafinelli is a big star in a small class of Merlot producers that’s doing it right. The deep, rich, warm, elegant, dark fruit flavors make it a wine to sip standalone or pair with just about anything and the long almost chocolaty finish makes you feel sexy. If you can find a better Merlot than this, I’d like to know about it.


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