06 L'Ecole No. 41, Columbia Valley Merlot
I believe in the goodness of others because of this wine, by far the best of America's Bordeaux-style bottles. Yes, class is in session. There are fuller bodied wines. Fruitier. Sweeter. Earthier. Better with roast beef. But none so evocative. The label is just semantics--a merlot, sure, but calling it one is like calling chicken soup chicken. Yes it's the most important component and drives a powerful punch of silky blueberry and black cherry flavors. But it wouldn't be a meal without the carrots, noodles, and matzo ball. Fortunately, the carrot here is 3% cabernet sauvignon, the noodles 5% petit verdot, and the giant matzo a generous tenth or so of cabernet franc so tremendous that New York should just stop. A lot of things are perfect about this wine from the seizure-enducing cinnamon and leather sole aroma to the elegant balance of fruit and terroir. But what will ruin you for any other merlot is the finish. If you've loved Bordeaux, this will instantly place you in Lalande de Pomerol before you realize that what's happening here--a study in dark cocoa powder, carob, and the enterprising affection of espresso if you insist on knowing the ending--isn't about comparing terroir or having a wine review site. It's about happiness, nothing corny or sentimental, just real downright happiness. That's the lesson. Wash your ears, change your underwear, remember to eat, and try, if you can, to be happy.