A deep garnet color greets the eye as the Merlot is poured. Initially, the nose is marked by aromas of blackberry, cassis and sweet oak. As the wine opens, notes of cherry, violets, cedar and white pepper add accent. In the mouth, the wine is firmly structured with rich tannins framing a cascade of flavors. Concentrated currant and red cherry are joined with anise, exotic tea and pomegranate. The oak comes forward on the mid-palate with toasty warm vanilla notes as the wine turns delightfully chewy on the finish. The 1997 Merlot is a beautifully structured wine with an ideal balance of power and finesse. Enjoyable now, but it will reward patient cellaring by revealing even more nuance.