- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Black Swan, Merlot, South Eastern Australia, 2004, $7

This inexpensive red recently won a platinum medal at the Critics Challenge competition in San Diego. My fellow judges and I tasted it blind (without seeing the label), and we rated it higher than almost all of its considerably costlier competitors.

If you’re looking for an affordable wine that tastes much classier than its price tag, you owe it to yourself to try it.

Young and vibrant, this merlot tastes of red cherries and plums, with a hint of vanilla on the midpalate, and ends with a mocha-tinged finish. Beautifully balanced, it is soft but at the same time substantial.

Vivacious flavor constitutes its primary appeal, so it’s not a wine to age, but over the next year or two, it will provide delicious drinking. So, given the ridiculously low price tag, it merits buying by the case.

Although priced for drinking with burgers, this medium-bodied merlot tastes good enough to have with steak. It’s a simply superb value.

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