The 181 2008 Merlot was produced using fruit sourced at Clay Station Vineyards in Lodi California. After picking and de-stemming the grapes sat in tanks for approximately 48 hours, allowing them to warm up to appropriate fermentation temperatures. Once the wine underwent primary and malolactic fermentation it was oak aged in a combination of French and American oak for four months. This wine has a suggested retail price of $12.99 Aromas of red fruit are underscored with hints of toasty oak aromas in the inviting nose of this 2008 Merlot. Dry red and black cherry flavors dominate the palate. Hints of Kirsch Liqueur show up as well, providing a nice counterbalance to the dry fruit characteristics. The palate is even keeled and very approachable. Earth and black pepper are both prominent on the finish which has good length. Soft tannins and solid acidity provide good framework.
When I think about wines in this price range there are a few things I’m looking for. I want the wine to have varietal character. These are the kinds of wines many of us serve at large gatherings or bring to a party, so they should also have wide appeal. The 181 Merlot like its sister wine 337 Cabernet Sauvignon does just that. It’s loaded with appealing flavors and it’s affordable. A solid choice if you’re looking for a California wine to buy a case of to keep around as a house wine. This is a Merlot aimed at immediate enjoyment; drink it over the next two years for best results.