Napa River, Merlot 2003

by Tim Elliott on November 7, 2006

There’s a river of bulk wine running through Napa Valley and Fred Franzia is buying a lot of this juice and bottling for Trader Joe’s. I was somewhat surprised how good the Cabernet Sauvignon was so I picked up the Merlot and Chardonnay to try. Given the current downturn in demand for Merlot due to the “Sideways effect” I had high hopes this wine would be better than the Cab. While it’s OK, I was a bit disappointed.

Napa River, Merlot, Napa Valley 2003 ($5) – Garnet color with a purple rim. Blackberry, currant and vanilla aromas. In the mouth, this wine seems a bit disjointed with plum, blackberry, pepper and spice flavors finishing with medium tannins and some heat from alcohol (which I expect is closer to 13.5% than the listed 12.5%). The mid-palate seems to be missing here but it is still worth the $5 spent and three bucks better than the Charles Shaw “Kool-Aid” Merlot. Best to stick with the Napa River Cab for your low-end red, but a few bucks more will get you something quite a bit better.

12.5% ABV
Natural cork closure
Score: 80

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  • Mary Hansen

    I have been buying Napa River,Merlot at Trader Joe's. Last week they told me they no
    longer carry it. Where can I buy it???
    I live in Arcadia,CAthanks, Mary

  • Laura

    I need to find 40 cases of the Napa River Merlot for my wedding, if Trader Joe's isnt carrying it where could it be now?

  • Kristin

    i have two bottles if you want them

  • http://www.rivercitywoodworks.net Hal

    Would someone please answer this question?

    Despite the reviews, this is a tasty merlot that everyone seems to love, wine lovers and non-snobs alike. There are many of us out here that have not burned out our taste buds with pepper & hot spices, enjoy a nice subtle flavor and can still taste it.

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