Vendange Merlot 2005

Price: $2
Maker: Vendange Wine Cellars, Lathrop, California
Variety: Merlot
Packaging: 175 ml bottle, screw cap closure
Alcohol Content: 13.0%
Our Rating: 7.5 out of 10

Vendange seems to be doing more with creative packaging than just about any other winery – the Vendange Merlot 2005 we tried came in a small 175ml bottle, and they also offer standard 750ml and 1.5l bottles plus their fairly unique 500ml Tetra Paks. This wine is a bit less creative. The nose was a bit weak, with spice, leather, and licorice notes. The flavor was plummy and earthy, with an oak finish. Were it not for the earthiness, which we associate with some of the cheapest boxed plonk, we would have liked this wine more. We rated Vendange Merlot 2004 (that one from a Tetra Pak) as better than this one – we found the two to be quite different.

One issue with wines in tiny bottles intended for single servings is that they are unlikely to get much breathing time. We’ve found young, cheap reds often benefit from some extra air. We didn’t experiment with this particular wine, but we may try that in the future.

In short, this wine is drinkable, but is far from our favorite cheap Merlot. If you don’t have to have the 175ml packaging, consider Bohemian Highway Merlot or Forest Glen Merlot. Both of these can be found for $5 – $8 per 750ml bottle, and are a lot more fun. If you can step up all the way to $10 or so, try Concannon Central Coast Merlot.

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