I have a friend who is crazy about Harlan wines (where I think she's crazy to be crazy about them), and she would love this. It has that same kind of thick, velvetty oak.
Bob's getting good (I always make him guess): "It's not Australian or French, is it?" No. "Then it's Californian." Interestingly he couldn't get much further. Surprised that "Cabernet?" got a 'no', he shook his head as he considered syrah but never turned to merlot. That thick oak obscured all the ready clues, though eventually we could find some plummy fruit (nicely restrained, no fruitbomb here), coffee and chocolate notes. The tannins still rule the finish. Oakaphobes would hate it, but it's an interesting wine that has the weight and finish of a far more expensive wine than the $20 I paid for it, and it's aging nicely.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov