TASTING NOTE: 2010 Charles Smith The Velvet Devil Merlot
Region: Washington State
Price: $11.99 at Total Wine
Sight: black-purple with ruby facets
Smell: alcohol, plum, cherry, smoky
Taste: medium-bodied, bitter chocolate, cherry, barbecue sauce
Overall: First of all, let’s talk about the color of this—it’s incredibly dark, almost a blackened purple, but it isn’t inky. It’s not dense enough to blot out all of the color, so in the light or at a tilt it catches these beautiful ruby facets, like you’re staring straight into a gemstone. The nose isn’t quite a face full of fruit—there is some plum and cherry, but it’s amply supplemented with a tense smokiness and the low purr of alcohol. Moving on to the actual taste, the wine seems to increase in body as it moves across the palate. It starts out silky with a round cherry emphasis, and when it crosses the mid-palate, the alcohol swells and some intriguing complexities emerge—especially the bitter edge of dark chocolate, and a smoky, savory, slightly acidic finish that somehow evokes the character of barbecue sauce. My experience with Charles Smith wines—and this is no exception—is that there’s always a lot of depth, polish, and finesse, but also something a little rustic or wild that basically guarantees that you’ll remember it. The last thing I’ll say is that this drinks way better than $12. Think about it!