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Monday, April 09, 2007

Los Cardos Merlot 2004

"Los Cardos" is Spanish for The Thistles, named after the prickly plants that grow in and around some of the vineyards in Mendoza, Argentina.

Upon pouring it out of the bottle I thought the name was completely appropriate -- it was dark purple, had no aroma, and went down with a lingering heat and heavy tannins. This was at 6:30 p.m. By 6:45 the heat had moderated a little, and the palate had started to exhibit an herbal quality. Or was it weedy? Clearly, it hadn't won me over yet, but it was improving.

I stuck the cork back in the bottle and went out for a few hours. At 10:30 I returned, poured it into a decanter, and swirled it for a while. Another sniff, swirl and slug revealed great improvement -- now it had a nose of dark fruits, mainly plums and blackberries. On the palate it was more blackberry with an underflavor of dried spices, backed up by firm but agreeable tannins. It didn't show much complexity, but for $10 I don't expect a lot of that. After my wait (it's 11:30 as I write this), it became a dry, agreeable wine that would go well with grilled meats. At this point it would also be a good sipper, but five hours is a bit long to wait for a sipping wine to come around.

This is one of those $10 wines that you can open, leave on the kitchen counter for a day, then come back and enjoy -- or, alternatively, put in your cellar for three to five years. In either case, your patience will pay off.
M. Zane Grey, 11:20 PM