*Straight out of the bottle: This is a tasty merlot coming out of the Napa Valley. Very straight on with varietal characteristics displaying the classic jammy, bigger, and bolder red. This wine stands out as a diamond in the rough on many aspects; flavor, price, and quality. It carries a nice spicy and jammy, fruit-forard front, which leads into nice tones of leather, tobacco and oak. It also has nice, mellow and mature tannins which assist in a smooth, dry finish. I would recommend this wine any day of the week for both the price and the quality.
Raw Score: 89 Handicap Score (Compared to other wines and varietals in its price range $18): 94
*Straight out of the bottle: This is a great merlot that was released a couple years ago from Balistreri Vineyards. It starts very fruit forward on the palate with lush red fruit and hints of ripe berries, which transcends into vanilla and rich, cream, and finally ends with a nice, dry finish with a hint of espresso and spice. I couldn’t ask any more of a great merlot and the fact that it is coming out of Colorado, makes it even more enjoyable!
Raw Score: 90 Handicap Score (Compared to other wines and varietals in its price range $25): 90
2003 Balistreri Colorado Merlot – No Vineyard Listed – Barrel # 2055
We decided to decant this wine as it is fairly old and had produced quite a bit of sediment.
*Straight out of the bottle (After being poured into the decanter): This merlot from Balistreri straight out of the bottle was surprisingly dry. Subtle hints of signature Balistreri-wine, light fruit flavors, leather. Tannins are mellow, however, the body at this point seems very limited and narrow.
*Decanted (for about an hour): With time, this wine became much, much better. It opened up and aligned with the traditional Balistreri wines. It became more fruit forward with a subtle sweetness that was perfectly balanced. Flavors of chocolate, berries, and vanilla, melded together perfectly with the mellow, mature tannins to create a smooth, great wine.
Raw Score: 84 Handicap Score : I was lucky enough to find this rare wine on clearance at a small, liquor store up in Steamboat Springs, CO. Thus, it is difficult to compare this wine to others in its varietal and price range as this particular vintage is currently sold out and is no longer available through regular retail.
*Straight out of the bottle: First impressions remind us very much like a BIG, BOLD cabernet sauvignon. Drier than most merlots, oak, with an earthy finish.
We chose to decant this wine as recommended.
*Decanted (for about an hour): AMAZING!!! With time, this wine became more approachable, with a nice velvety, smooth texture. With flavors of rich red fruit, cream, hints of tobacco, oak, cloves – this wine made our meal much more enjoyable. This merlot still maintained its big body, became less dry and aligned more distinctly with the varietal character.
Raw Score: 94 Handicap Score (Compared to other wines and varietals in its price range $85): 97