Rutherford Hill Winery (Terlato Wines)
Rutherford, California, USA
$19.00 -- Costco, Austin, TX
Color: Dark garnet
Nose: Black cherry, Dr. Pepper, coffee, violet CrayolaTM crayon
Front: Plum, chocolate
Middle: Raspberry, orange, black tea
Back: Soft tannins, cedar
Burns clean?: Yes
I'm a big fan of Rutherford Hill wines, not so much because they're the tastiest things ever -- though they're pretty good -- as because they are solid, characteristic Napa wines at reasonable prices.
I'm having a bit of a strange struggle with myself as I drink this, respecting whether I prefer the Cabernet or the Merlot, especially given that in general the 2004 Merlot is a couple of bucks cheaper. They share many features: they're both generously oaked, and they're both from fruit grown in the same vineyards (probably all over the Valley), which gives them a strong personality. This one is probably a little more complex, but not as charming as the Merlot: so there, I finesse the question!
Note (3-8-2010): Had the 2003. 13.5% abv. Cherry, cedar, asphalt, and a hint of mint and NyQuil on the nose; plenty of oak, with a bit of cherry and cassis on the palate. I think I preferred the slightly more diverse palate of the 2004. On day 2, though, the mint and chocolate and wood leapt from the glass: fascinating!