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Wine Pick of the Week

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2017 Merlot, Richard McDowell's Selection

Toad Hollow

Sonoma County

Alcohol: 14.3%

Suggested Retail: $15.99

“Many wine reviews are written about bottles that people can’t afford (but wish they could). If the consumer can enjoy a vicarious taste for free, what’s the harm? Besides triggering wistful ‘maybe someday’ thoughts, the comments of a reviewer who has really tasted something like a Chateau Petrus can give a fuller picture of what a wine variety can achieve at its zenith. But like most folks who’d enjoy imagining themselves behind the wheel of an Aston-Martin, we realize that the Toyota Camry in the driveway will do just fine.

“This week’s ‘Pick’ retails for $16 (or a penny less, if you insist on precision).  We found it not just serviceable, but a very appealing wine. It’s 100% Merlot and the grapes were sourced from Russian River Valley and other growing regions in Sonoma County. We appreciate a winery that can produce good tasting products at fair prices. Toad Hollow Vineyards is such an operation. Not too long ago, their Rosé of Pinot Noir appealed to us. It was bright, fresh and showed Pinot Noir fruit attributes—not always the case when this sometimes tricky grape variety is made in a rosé style.

Toad Hollow Stamp Picmonkey

The 2017 Toad Hollow Merlot didn’t demand deep analysis. It had plenty of character, yet it was easy to drink. It smelled good. It tasted good. And it went well with dinner. Its aroma reminded us of dark cherries and raspberries with just a wisp of chocolate in the background. And the taste? Well, there was more of the black cherry and berry aspects with very subtle evocations of chocolate and spice.  After tasting the wine and making our notes, we read that Toad Hollow says it has a ‘graceful and lush finish,’ an opinion that was consistent with our own observation. The 2017 Sonoma County Merlot from Toad Hollow is a solid effort and well-priced at $16.”

Food Affinity:  “As with most red table wines, almost any red meat pairing would be at least o.k. and so would some more robust poultry dishes. We enjoyed this Merlot with grilled London Broil accompanied by sautéed mushrooms.”

Editor’s note: Wines reviewed at TASTE Publications are encountered by our staff in several ways. They can be discovered at trade tastings or visits to wineries. They may also be purchased by staff members for their own tables or be those sent by wineries for possible review. This is an editorial feature, not advertising, and appearance cannot be secured by payment. More information can be had by contacting This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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