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mondavi merlotRobert Mondavi winery, now owned by Constellation Brands, makes some very fine premium wines but this is their bargain basement product and it’s no better (or worse) than the countless other bottom shelf wines at the supermarket. And by the way, ignore “Private Selection” on the bottle. It means nothing. At this price, I guarantee no one was carefully selecting berries from the vine or the sorting table.

Grapes were sourced from cool-climate Monterrey. Subdued, simple plum with coffee, a little oak, and vegetal notes on the nose marred by a whiff of alcohol. Soft and smooth, medium-bodied with good acidity in the mouth, almost no tannic structure and a short finish. Designed for easy drinking, if you’re buying for friends for whom wine is an afterthought this will go well with whatever you’re doing. It is well-behaved and inoffensive, with enough acidity to enliven a meal, but nothing very interesting here.

The average price is $10 but I bought it for $6. This is a bargain at the low end of the scale and widely available at most supermarkets and wine shops.

Score: 83

Price: $10 (ave.)

Alcohol: 13.5%