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DetailsIdeally drink now through 2022
The Cycles Gladiator Merlot, produced with grapes grown in the Livermore Valley and the Central Coast of California, is an excellent example of Merlot done right. Consisting of 88% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 6% Syrah, this wine exhibits youthful aromas of fresh plum and black cherry, with cedar, crushed graphite, and caramel notes as well. On the palate, blackberry and blueberry flavors intermingle with oregano, dill, and peppercorn, all leading to a silky-smooth finish with just a touch of tannic dryness.
Peking duck, a carnitas taco, or even a juicy hamburger with all the fixings would taste delicious next to this fruit forward and richly flavored wine.
Almost all the Merlot grapes for this wine come from the Livermore Valley, a hot, dry region just inland from San Francisco, and south of Napa Valley by about two hours. This region is adept at making fruit forward, rich and velvety wines, but with great acidity that comes from the cooling fog that blows in every night from the San Francisco Bay. The Cycles Gladiator Merlot follows this trend, being a fruit-driven wine that punches far above its weight in terms of price, and that has a balanced quality that you rarely see from California Merlot. A fairly light oak regimen, with just 18 months in only 15% new French oak barrels (with the other 85% being neutral) softens this wine without overwhelming it with oak flavors.