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Meerlust Meerlust 1994 Stellenbosch Merlot ($19.99)
One of the most interesting South African wines I've tried recently, this excellent item restores dignity to the much-abused Merlot in a ripe, full-bodied, structured and complex table wine. Very dark garnet in color with an amber glint, its forward aroma adds a distinct and tasty nuance of cocoa to ripe black fruit. Fresh fruit follows in the flavor, round and full: cherry-berry fruit and chocolate, consistent with the nose. Very interesting wine, drinking well. U.S. importer: Maisons, Marques & Domaines Ltd., San Francisco. (Sept. 24, 1999)

FOOD MATCH: Makes an excellent match with a medium-rare steak.

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All my wine-tasting reports are consumer-oriented. In order to maintain objectivity and avoid conflicts of interest, I purchase all the wines I rate at my own expense in retail stores.

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