Sunday, January 22, 2012

Updated Review: *** $ Haddon Cellars Merlot, 2002, CA - BEST VALUE

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By way of background: Haddon Cellars Merlot, 2002, from unspecified vineyard regions of California was offered as part of the Wine Insiders series. It is finished at 12% alcohol, quite light by U.S. standards.

Original Review February 2007: Medium brick, ruby color. Slightly flat cherry cola aroma. More pleasant flavors than suggested by the nose -- deep berries, round, a touch of acids and tannins. Finishes quick with a hint of plum and blueberry. Easy to move on to something else...

Updated Review July 2007: Consistent notes. Not improved with additional age. Slightly more acidic and tannic than earlier. Moving from original **+ to **.

Updated Review two and a half years later, December, 2009...

In the glass: This is showing medium dark brick red, not really opaque anywhere.

On the nose: Poured without a decant and swirled vigorously, aromas lean towards cherry vinegar. Not appealing.

On the palate: A first note of hyper-ripe sweet black raspberries steeped in oak touches your mid-palate, quite a pleasant surprise after the aroma. The flavors move to your cheeks with no noticeable added notes of tannin or acid.

And the finish: Rests in your upper palate for a few moments, bright and crisp, then ends with just a touch of sugar cloy.

In summary: Now seven years from the vintage date, this has become a generally pleasant experience - not great distinction nor complexity, but a satisfying mid-level table red wine. I don't believe I'd seek it out again, so it falls just short of three stars on the five-star Spirit of Wine scale. We'll go with two stars and a plus for impressive improvement over the years. Decent value.

After long decant, three days in partial bottle under vacuum... Aromas improved, now lightly sweet raspberry. Palate has held solid, now better knitted-together. Finish is nicer too, not sugary, but holds a little more acid "snap" in your cheeks. Moves to three stars with the vacuum decant, and now becomes a best value at its practically free price.

Updated review, over two years later,  now a full decade from vintage date, January, 2012:  Still thin cherry on the nose.  Light and sweet raspberries remain on the palate.  Solid.  Following long decant, three full days kept cool in partially filled bottle: Sweet cherry on the nose and sweeter raspberries on the palate.

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