Charles Krug, Napa Valley (California) Merlot 2004

$24

California merlot may not be as trendy as Golden State pinot noir these days, but let's be honest—the state's best merlots are usually far superior to today's often treacley-sweet pinots. Here's an impressive example of the varietal, marked by genuine depth of flavor and a long, satisfying finish. Merlot can be a wonderful lead grape (as it often is in Bordeaux), and Charles Krug is making some delicious wines these days.