I'm not big on Merlots, but this wine is amazing. At a perfect $20-25 price point, the wine is yummy, but opens up with food. I had this wine with a filet mignon and mushrooms and I was in heaven. It's a great buy. Raymond Vineyards produces quality wines at a great price point.
I've been selling this wine at my work for almost 3 years. It doesn't get ordered a lot but then again I never pushed it because I had never tried it until last week. My first taste was good, but nothing special, HOWEVER, once the wine got a chance to "open up" it was excellent. I got all the classic Napa Valley cabernet flavors including dark plum and blackberry. I was intrigued the most by the subtle black olive flavors which added complexity to the finish. A great value at $25-30.
I'm a big fan of Tempranillo's - especially those which have been aged. I would place this up there with the Bodegas Faustino I - another great Gran Reserva from 1996. The nose is crazy - I get the same cigar box/cedar wood as I do with the Faustino. The mouthfeel is silky and smooth with very little tannins and a sweet taste that lingers in your mouth. I paired with turkey breast and I was surprised at the great match-up with white meat. Nothing shocking here, just another great value wine from Spain. Enjoy.