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.
Natural cork closure