Clos Pegase 2000 Mitsuko's Vineyard Carneros Napa Valley Merlot ($19.99)
This is an inky dark reddish-purple wine with the classic chocolate-covered-cherry aroma profile of a good New World Merlot, not over-the-top but pleasant and inviting. Similar on the palate, it opens with ripe black fruit, plums and tart cherries with a rich, earthy back note of bittersweet dark chocolate. Fruit and acidity are in good balance; tannins are present but so smooth that they fade seamlessly into the fruit, which remains clean and consistent in a long finish. There's no need to snob on this Merlot: It's eminently drinkable and finds a good midpoint between New World and Old World styles. US Importer: (Apr 16, 2005)

FOOD MATCH: Fine with an herbal, aromatic Italian-style chicken dish from Marcella Hazan, a split chiclen pan-roasted with herbs and garlic, then finished in a hot oven with a coating of grated Parmigiano.



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