Whoa. Clouds of rich, dark chocolate, bulldust, and black olive billow up in the glass, and there’s an almost perfumed character to the wine, with a slight sweetness – it’s not unlike vetiver or sage, albeit with a lovely, restrained edge. The color’s a lovely, dark purple with nearly visible particles towards the rim; it just looks expensive, somehow. On the palate, the first thing that strikes me is the lovely texture: firm and round, followed shortly by flavor that I can honestly only describe as delicious. There are tastes of cassia, Kalamata olive, and cassis, and it all trails off into a clean finish with hints of tannin, acid, and a lovely sweetness, almost like violet pastilles mixed in with tahini. Best of all, the finish keeps going for a while, not resolving itself; it’s a fine drink.Cameron HughesPrice: US $9.99Closure: DiamDate tasted: November 2007—For you Aussies out there, Meritage is American for “Bordeaux blend,” more or less. This also marks the first time I’ve seen an American wine closed with a Diam technical cork, which is awesome. Finally, it may interest you to know that we don’t have cleanskins – but Cameron Hughes is pioneering what y’all would call cleanskins in the US market. If you’re in the USA, you can probably find one or two of them at your local Costco, and they also do mail order (their Lot 39 Shiraz Viognier from the Barossa is probably the most incredibly fun $10 wine I’ve had this year).