Chateau Ste. Michelle Merlot 2015

Extra dry especially for an American merlot. It’s from Washington but in a blind tasting you may think it’s a Bordeaux (left bank-ish).  The finish is slightly rough but smooths out with time.  Medium-firm tannins.
I bought this in the vintages section as a final sale for $17 but the original price was $21.95. It’s a decent value at the price point I paid.
At a Glance
Taste chocolate, raspberry, oak
Smell black cherry, plum, oak
Food salmon
Sweetness extra dry
Price $17.00
LCBO# 486936
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Ironstone Merlot 2013

Extra dry, slight alcohol notes on the finish, slightly off balance
At a Glance
Taste blackberry, light cedar, smoke
Smell blackberry, dark cherry, alcohol
Food american
Sweetness extra dry
Price $17.25
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LeRoisier Reserve Merlot

This non-vintage, multi-country merlot isn’t anything to write home about, although guests did enjoy it.  It’s not something I would purchase again but I would drink it over a mass-produced light lager.
Alcohol/Vol 13%
At a Glance
Taste cherry, vanilla, plum
Smell plum, vanilla, berry
Food american
Sweetness dry
Price $13.95
LCBO# n/a
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Angels Gate Merlot VQA

Fusels are a problem with this wine making it taste hot and thin.  Firm tannins but they aren’t being backed up with flavour.  This wine was also hurt by the price point, too high for what you get.
VQA wine.  Alcohol/Vol 13%
At a Glance
Taste cherry, vanilla, alcohol heat
Smell blackcurrant, vanilla, spice
Food sandwiches
Sweetness dry
Price $14.95
LCBO# 107722
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Yellow Tail Merlot 2014

Well, trying this bottle was a long time coming.  Yellow Tail certainly has their fans, but I am not one of them.  You don’t need to be a wine taster to notice there’s a noticeable heat (alcohol) on the nose and palate.  Along with overwhelming notes of vanilla and oak to throw this wine completely off balance.
When you get into mass produced wine, you’re likely blending juices from various sources.  Like too many cooks in the kitchen, it makes a mess.  Alcohol/Vol 13%
At a Glance
Taste young cherry, alcohol, vanilla
Smell vanilla, mulberry, oak
Food hotdogs
Sweetness off dry
Price $11.95
LCBO# 625350
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Barefoot Merlot

I’ve had better bottles from Barefoot.  This one is a pretty simple medium bodied off dry weekday merlot.  Give their Shiraz a go.
Alcohol Content: 13.5%
Tip: tulip glass
At a Glance
Taste cherry, vanilla, chocolate
Smell dark berry, cherry, raspberry
Food bbq lunch
Sweetness off dry
Price $9.95
LCBO# 53991
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Ironstone Vineyards Merlot 2007

This merlot drinks much like a California cab. It has a full mouthfeel and is very well balanced.

Ironstone continues to be a great value for under $20

Tip: tulip glass
At a Glance
Taste cherry, plum
Smell cola, black cherry, pomegranate
Food steak, pork, veal
Sweetness extra dry
Price $16.95
LCBO# 704353
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Pelee Island Merlot Reserve 2008

Well this VQA is alright to drink but it’s not giving me a whole lot to write about…It’s a middle of the road, classic Ontario red – a pretty safe bet for any red meat.

Grapes: 85% Merlot, 15% Zweigelt. Do I know what Zweigelt is? I do not.

Tip: Serve slightly chilled

At a Glance
Taste dark berry, oak, vanilla
Smell black cherry, dark berry, light oak
Food grilled red meat
Sweetness dry
Price $12.95
LCBO# 612622
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Charles Shaw Merlot 2007

Only in America? This merlot came to us for $1.99. Often called two-buck-chuck, this wine is mostly found at Trader Joe’s in the United States. One thing is certain, we have never  encountered two-dollar wine in Canada…god bless America.
First thing is the colour, yeah thats right I spelled it with a “u”. Get over it. Great dark purple, with light edges. We were  actually surprised as this wine is not offensive, easy drinking and generally “not bad”. Does that make it a California Cab? Hell no.  But, if your having a group over or making large quantities of Sangria.
Tip: chill slightly
At a Glance
Taste cherry, strawberry, berry jam
Smell vanilla, strawberry, cherry cola
Food cheese nachos, cheddar, cold cuts
Sweetness off dry
Price $1.99
LCBO# 0
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Carmen Merlot 2007

So far in 2009, Chile has not been able to hold a torch to it’s previous growth years which showed excellent wines at even better values. Hopefully this will turn around soon.
After reading the label that the people at Vina Carmen decided best represented this vintage, I was expecting a hit. I was wrong…actually their label mislead me. Specifically when they prepared you for a finish showing “soft tannins and a lingering fruit finish” I didn’t taste either and the finish was far too hot.
Tip: chill more than usual
At a Glance
Taste dark berry, vanilla, oak
Smell black cherry, cola, spice
Food burger
Sweetness dry
Price $10.90
LCBO# 248625
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Domaine des Aspes Merlot 2005

I don’t drink a lot of French wine.  There I said it.  I’m also willing to bet you don’t either.  Probably because the France section of the liquor store is a scary place.  But in my quest for great wines under $20 I came across Domaine des Aspes a few years ago.
This is the first red from them that I have tried (the whites are terrific).  This is an easy going Merlot with lots of character, nice even black fruit.  Does not need food to shine, also a crowd pleaser.  I picked up a case and stashed it in my collection for everyday wine.
Tip: Released on Jan 10, 2009
At a Glance
Taste black berry, cedar, plum
Smell dark berries, black cherry, wild raspberry
Food beef stew, grilled vegetables, light pasta
Sweetness dry
Price $14.95
LCBO# 951665
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Gray Fox Merlot 2007

Seems like we’re having a bit of trouble finding a good house merlot. For such a popular varietal, you’d think we’d have more luck…maybe this varietal is suffering from market saturation.
This particular budget merlot has a light-medium body with medium-light fruit content. It didn’t seem very refined and felt rushed out the door.
I much prefer their Gray Fox Cabernet Sauvignon 2006
Tip: balloon glass
At a Glance
Taste cherry, sour berry
Smell cherry, alcohol, geranium
Food club sandwich
Sweetness dry
Price $7.95
LCBO# 527507
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Pasion 4 Merlot 2006

I will admit that I often check out the back of the bottle to get a sense of whats in the bottle. While you don’t want to take too much of what the marketing department said to heart, you can usually get some insight. If you want a fiction story go to a library and borrow a book.
While the back of this bottle certainly had great expectations it did fall a little short (and thin). The wine was good and non-offensive but a little something was missing in the middle giving it that thin mouth feel. But still got a high value marks.
Tip: tulip glass
At a Glance
Taste raspberry, plum, chocolate
Smell rhubarb pie, raspberry, vanilla
Food grilled meat and roast veg
Sweetness dry
Price $11.95
LCBO# 59287
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Pasion 4 Merlot 2006

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The Little Penguin Merlot 2007

This wine has it’s place, picnic barbecues. It also has it’s place with the many other merlots from companies who choose to name their product after animals or something cutesy. If you’re a buyer of these wines and enjoy them, give this one a shot, I found it much more enjoyable than the merlot by yellow tail, and it’s a whole nickel cheaper – I’m probably paying for the name 😉
To watch for: how this wine is sweet on the attack but finishes with a slight bitter note.
Tip: balloon glass
At a Glance
Taste cherry, raspberry, vanilla
Smell cherry, berry
Food picnic food
Sweetness off dry
Price $12.15
LCBO# 598912
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Barefoot Cellars Merlot

Here’s an economy California merlot that if you lived in California would probably run you about 5 bucks a bottle. The company reminds be a bit of two-buck-chuck and yellow tail. Striving to make a consistent wine year after year (hmmmm…kind of like beer)
Although I wouldn’t make this one of my regulars, I could see this being a chilled summer sipper.
Tip: serve chilled
At a Glance
Taste blackberry, boysenberry, sweet plum
Smell boysenberry, plum, anise
Food bbq chicken
Sweetness off dry
Price $9.95
LCBO# 53991
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