It's a funny thing about Chilean wines. People seem to either rave about them or revile them. Along with a lot of other Southern Hemisphere wines they've been bandied about as bargains for years by the Wine Press. Truth is, sometimes they are are sometimes they're not.
The 2003 Casa Julia Merlot is definitely in the bargain camp.
Coming in under $8 it offers plenty for that money.
Dark fruit rules the day with a bit of a peppery undertone.
It's medium to full bodied with a nice finish. Certainly more finish than you usually get for $8.
Significantly more true varietal character than you'll generally find in this price range
It likely won't evolve much but I'll bet it holds up for another few years if properly stored.
If you're looking for a house wine or something to go to with a large crowd when you don't want to break into your higher end bottles, the Casa Julia is a safe bet.