This merlot-driven Washington cuvee shows big fruit slathered with big, but fine, wood. Layers of deep black cherries, some slightly bruised, unsweetened chocolate, and espresso, are sandwiched between thin layers of French oak, offering richness, some depth on the mid-palate, and wood-spice flavors, cedar and sandalwood. Drink with something very thick, very red, and only slightly cooked (and you know who you are).

WHO: Nicholas Cole
WHAT: Merlot (64%), Cabernet Franc (23%), Cabernet Sauvignon (13%)
WHERE: Columbia Valley, Washington
WHEN: 2004
HOW MUCH: $54

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