It seems to me that, more than any other grape, merlot gives wine that is either really good or really boring. Most, of course, falls into the latter category. Even if it's not outright bad, it's dull and generic with little to provide interest. The wine we opened last night was very much in the other category. I bought it after being very impressed with it at the winery, and it did not let us down. Very dark color, forward nose of black fruit with some good resiny/brambly notes. Big on the palate, with rich fruit character, herbs, and nice resiny flavors to provide some complexity. Nice bracing acidity and moderate tannins kept it very nicely balanced, and it finished long and clean, if a bit astringent.
If I heard correctly at the winery, they will not be making any more of this. Their parent company (Allied Domecq, I believe?) decided they are to be a PINOT NOIR producer. It's too bad - this is some really good juice. We need more merlot like it.
Letterman asked Zevon if his condition had taught him anything about life and death. ''How much you're supposed to enjoy every sandwich,'' Zevon answered. (From a 2003 NYTimes article on Zevon by Jon Pareles.)