Forest floor, violets and cherry tobacco lead to licorice and cedar flavors over a rich, extracted palate – integrating big tannins with a fruit-forward core, containing roasted oak with hints of cacao, and camphor in the finish. A wonderful Bordeaux-style wine worthy of cellaring.

94 Point Review - Sommelier & Wine Critic Chris Sawyer Spy memo to avid wine consumers: The difference between a great red wine and a mediocre one comes down to how the wine performs in the glass. This is often evident with domestic versions of Merlot, a red grape variety known for being gentle and fruity with soft tannins. In many cases, you pour the wine in glass and it just stays the same until the bottle is finished. In one word: boring.

On the other hand, great Merlots are the ones that continue to open up with new flavors on each sip. One of the new tasty examples of this style is the Mazzocco 2009 Merlot. Crafted under the watchful eye of winemaker Antonie Favero, the wine starts off with intriguing aromas of ripe berries, dark chocolate, licorice, earth, and cedar. Then, once it gets in the glass, it quickly starts expanding with rich flavors of blackberry, dark cherry, wild herbs, black tea, and a hint of smoke on the long elegant finish. So what’s the secret, you ask? Let’s just say it’s got a bit of extra stuffing inside. In this case, 11% Cabernet Franc, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 4% Malbec—a Bordeaux style blend which helps add more layers to the already complex flavors. For that reason, it’s not a wine for sissies. Instead, it’s on a higher plateau of how complex Merlots with weight, texture, bold flavors and structure should taste.

With food, this wine is big enough to pair with roasted meats, duck with plum sauce, wild board stew, and hearty cheeses. In short, it’s a Merlot that won’t let you down. Hashtag: #score!