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01.30.2004

1996 Mystal Merlot, St. Helena

Lest anyone think that I like everything I drink, or even worse, every wine I choose is a good one, I submit to you the following experience.

I'm wandering around my local Good Life Grocery. They've got a wine buyer who sometimes gets interesting things in. I notice a unique bottle of Merlot with a nice label and an interesting form factor (more like a bottle of balsamic vinegar than wine). It also happens to be a '96 Merlot, which you don't nomally see lying around in grocery stores that often. So, of course, I bring the Mystal home, and have it with some cornmeal crust pizza with four cheeses and salami.

Tasting notes:
Right out of the bottle the wine has a good color, moving towards the brick red you'd expect of an older wine, and in the glass it has a nose of cedar and pine with some hints of oregano. Mellow tannins and oak in the mouth, these were probably very intense when it was first bottled. The wine is really trying to have fruit flavors of cherry and plum, but they struggle to make themselves known, like a light struggling to shine through a distant haze -- they don't resolve well. Even though the wine is only 13% alchocol, there is a sharp finish on the wine that is somewhat stringent. Overall, this wine is better than some $7 wines I've drunk but not worth buying.

Food pairing:
Anything to distract you from the mediocreflavor. How about Red Hots and Garlic bread ?

Overall score: 3.5/4

How much: $6.99

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