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In the glass this Merlot shows a slightly paler purple than I was expecting.  The nose, after I performed the ‘Shake‘ exhibits gorgeous black berry and cinnamon notes.  On the palate I am greeted with a really smooth dose of Ribena, some meaty notes, and a fresh ensemble of tannins that are ever present but not cloying.  The wine is full flavored, make no mistake- but it does so with a very gentle build-up.  Extraction is at its fullest and with that comes a well hidden 14.5% alcohol.  The mid palate is somewhat muted after the initial uptake, the finish is where it’s at.  More dark berries emerge as well as a blueberry pie component.  I hate to say it, but this wine needs a touch more oak.  Yup, I said it.  Not lashings, but a tiny more vanilla, perhaps a little more tannic bite.  At one point I’m sure the wine had plenty of it, perhaps just fading at this point.  The structure is good though and the wine is balanced.  I would drink up as the wine is at peak and there is not much in the way of tertiary flavors.  It is relatively easy-going and will do well with a variety of dishes.  I am going with 90 points and 4 stars for this $28 effort.  Salut….