Cheap Merlot is one of the best-selling wines in America, and in theory, you can understand why. Anyone can appreciate an easygoing red for everyday drinking if the price is right. But in reality, most of the $10-and-under Merlots are not worth drinking at any price. I review California Merlots for the magazine, so I speak from experience.
But every year, I find a few Merlots that beat the odds, and the latest is Cycles Gladiator California 2007 ($10.) I’ll admit that I’m even more excited about finding a good 10-buck Merlot than I am about reviewing an outstanding one. Great California Merlots are easier to find (if price is no issue).
I recommended the 2007 Cycles Gladiator to a budget-conscious friend and he recently shared a glass with me. It was everything I remembered: juicy, with vibrant cherry fruit and a hint of herbs and just enough structure to keep it interesting. I rated it 86 points, non-blind.
WineSpectator.com members: Get scores and tasting notes for other Top Value California Merlots for $30 or less.