shadow mountainMerlot is a versatile grape but these days you find it mostly striving to be cuddly and flirtatious. The intriguing nose on the Shadow Mountain tells you right away this is not one of those soft, seductive Merlots

Very dark plum, fig, and charred wood on the nose, intense and unvarnished. Some age is starting to show with the faint aroma of old books, which this old bookworm finds pleasing. The palate is taut and edgy, with a seam of minerality giving a lift to the cherry and fig flavors, it feels lively on the palate despite the big flavors. Charred wood continues to be the theme all the way through the medium length finish, the tannins at first prickly and then turning dusty. Muscular and firm yet succulent, with plenty of flavor.

This wine is about discipline and backbone, a wine to celebrate long marches, victorious battles, the courage of convictions,  If I might be so coarse as to use gendered descriptors, a masculine wine.

The grapes hail from the windblown steppes of Warner Springs 3500 feet above sea level in the higher elevations on the border of San Diego County; another example of exciting, original winemaking  coming out of San Diego

Price: $30

Score: 88

Alcohol: 13.1%