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By Michael Dresser | August 29, 1993
Here are notes on a sampling of American merlots, all bought recently in Maryland.Expensive and excellent* 1990 Newton Vineyards Merlot, unfiltered, Napa Valley ($22). The first thing you see when you pop the cork is purple gunk. What a beautiful sight! The sediment is a sign of an unfiltered, living wine, and is this wine ever alive! It's just rippling with muscle under a silky exterior. There are layers upon layers of blackberry and black cherry fruit, intermixed with flavors of smoked meat and herbs.
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By Meekah Hopkins and For The Baltimore Sun | August 26, 2014
Let's face it: Summer's over. But still, warm weather and plenty of daylight have me trying to squeeze those last few drops from the season. Read: Drink outdoors as frequently as possible. One of my favorite places to do so as of late has been at Sunset Cove in Bowleys Quarters in Baltimore County. The waterfront destination's sand, palm trees and boat slips are transformative enough to make you feel as if you're somewhere far away from life's reality. Its extensive cocktail list, filled with tiki-themed favorites and specialty crushes, make the tropical transporting even more seamless.
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By Michael Dresser | February 15, 1995
The Rio Negro area of Argentina is an intriguingly placed region -- close to the temperate middle of the country instead of in the torrid north, where most of Argentina's wines are grown. The result is a more French-style growing season, and this classy merlot shows the difference. It's an exceptionally complex, rich wine for its price, blending flavors of black cherry, blackcurrants and herbs. It emerges from its shell slowly, but when it does, the results are astonishing. It should age well for six to eight years.
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January 28, 2014
From: Sonoma County, Calif. Price: $24 Serve with: Duck breast, rack of lamb This is a smooth, suave, sophisticated merlot from a highly commercial winery that I can't help admiring. This is an ideal restaurant red - full-bodied enough to match with serious food, but perfectly ready yo be drunk now. It offers intense black cherry fruit, with subtle herbal notes, and admirable persistence and finish. It just goes down real easy. -- Michael Dresser
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By Michael Dresser | April 9, 2003
2001 Hahn Estates Merlot, Monterey ($12). This plump, chewy merlot exhibits a soft texture but has plenty of structure underneath. Its rich flavors of blackberry, chocolate and herbs give it more of a resemblance to syrah than to cabernet sauvignon. This merlot, which compares well with Napa Valley counterparts that sell for $20 and up, would pair well with roast chicken or red meat.
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By MICHAEL DRESSER | October 25, 2006
In a world of wimpy, thin merlots, this hearty example of the varietal certainly stands out -- especially at this price. It's a ripe, lush, dramatic red wine -- nothing elegant about it -- that rocks the palate with black-cherry, blackberry, chocolate and wild-game flavors. The alcohol level of 14 percent is well-concealed behind soft-textured fruit. One could object that it's as typical of syrah as merlot, but why quibble with a delicious, screw-cap-equipped wine that never will be tainted by a bad cork?
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By [Michael Dresser] | July 4, 2007
From: California Price: $10 Serve with: Hamburger, steak, grilled chicken Choosing between Red Truck's 2005 equally appealing cabernet sauvignon and merlot was tough. The merlot wins because it's so rare to find a merlot at this price that justifies the cost. This lush, silky, fruity red wine - with an abundance of black-cherry and oak flavor - isn't complex but is thoroughly enjoyable and a terrific bargain. It's an outdoors kind of red.
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By Michael Dresser and Michael Dresser,Sun Staff Writer | May 31, 1995
Merlot does not rhyme with hot, but it might as well.The red Bordeaux varietal, pronounced mare-LOW, has been the grape of fashion for the past several years and Merlot Mania shows no signs of abating.Retailers report they can't keep merlots on their shelves. Fifty cases of merlot come in, 50 cases of merlot go out. Some admit that they don't even worry much about the quality of the wine because they know that if it says merlot on the label, it'll sell.This frenzy is especially strong in California.
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By Michael Dresser | January 24, 2007
This Italian red is a real overachiever when it comes to quality in this price range. It's a medium-bodied blend of Tuscany's traditional sangiovese grape and the merlot of Bordeaux. In this case the combination works, with the merlot adding softness and lushness to the spice and structure of the sangiovese. It offers well-rounded black cherry fruit and hints of Mediterranean herbs, with good acidity and liveliness. In addition, it's versatile and ready to drink. Serve with pasta, roast chicken, red meat.
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By [Michael Dresser] | March 19, 2008
From: California Price: $12 Serve with: Steak, hamburger, pasta This medium-bodied red wine is no paragon of complexity. It's just a very pleasant merlot with generous black-cherry flavor and solid structure at an affordable price. It finishes with good length and provides just as much satisfaction as many California merlots that cost two or three times as much.
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By Michael Dresser, The Baltimore Sun | September 11, 2012
This artful blend of zinfandel, grenache, syrah, merlot and other red varietal is simply a very pleasant experience. The mix proves to be harmonious, and each variety seems to play its part perfectly. There's the power and earthiness of the zin, the broad shoulders of the syrah, the exuberant fruit of the grenache and the soft elegance of the merlot. The cherry and blackberry flavors are intense and penetrating but not harsh. It's a model of balance. It just goes to show that while the soil is crucial, the skill of the winemaker is important too. A big bonus is that Kendall-Jackson wines are widely available.
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By Jaclyn Peiser | August 7, 2012
Finding the perfect wine is an art form, and Sam Massa, the assistant sales manager at Bin 604 in Harbor East, is well-versed. Going on his third year at Bin 604, Massa, 30, began interacting with wine as a young boy when he would play in his father's grape vineyard. Now, the Washington Hill resident has designed some of the store's binology classes and teaches Wine 101: The Basics of Wine Tasting once a month. Sam put his glass down for a bit and talked to b about his favorite wine, Woody Allen and his love for local music.
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By Michael Dresser | April 27, 2012
From: California Price: $14 Serve with: Pasta dishes, grilled meat This lush, ripe blend of zinfandel, syrah, cabernet sauvignon and merlot is all about decadent pleasure. It's one of those smooth red wines that is so fruity it gives the impression of sweetness without being sweet. There's a lot of berry action - black, blue and wild - and hints of chocolate and coffee. There's no point in sitting on it. Drink now.  
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By Michael Dresser | October 28, 2009
Over the past decade, more and more well-made, premium-varietal wines are finding their way into the bag-in-a-box format, which practically guarantees against the ruinous effect of tainted cork. This South African blend of merlot and pinotage is one of the best boxed wines I've tasted, and its $16 price tag for the equivalent of four regular bottles works out to a great bargain. It's an explosively fruity, medium-bodied red wine with ripe plum and blackberry flavors with a hint of black pepper.
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By Michael Dresser | March 2, 1997
1995 Hedges Cabernet-Merlot, Columbia Valley ($11.29).This red-wine blend, from an excellent Washington state winery, offers firm structure and ripe, voluptuous black currant and black cherry fruit. It's a full-bodied, forward wine in the Mae West style. There's also enough backbone here to let this wine age for a good five years.Pub date: 3/2/97
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By Michael DresserMICHAEL DRESSER | August 29, 1993
Merlot arrived late at the great American wine party.The classic red Bordeaux grape was virtually unknown in California before the mid-1970s. Cabernet sauvignon, its traditional blending partner, was king. Duckhorn Vineyards, the first important U.S. winery to make merlot its flagship wine, wasn't even founded until 1976.Not until well into the 1980s did varietal merlot moved out of the category of exotica and into the mainstream of American winemaking. Since then, it's taken off in popularity, and it seems every winery in America has to have a merlot.
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