Concannon Vineyard is best known for its petite sirah, a subject that came up during my chat with John Concannon last week. But the winery isn't limited to that varietal. This merlot ($13, sample) is a new release -- a step up from the winery's $10 efforts. In this, it's a fine example of quality winemaking at this price, and this comes from someone who doesn't think much of inexpensive California merlot.
That's because most $10 or so California merlot doesn't have any character. It's all blueberry fruit and cola aromas, while the tannins have been thinned out almost past recognition and there is no finish at all. But the Concannon has surprisingly fine tannins and a much better than $13 finish. Plus, the blueberry is more restrained, so that it tastes like wine and not something to put on pancakes.
You can drink this on its own or with takeout burgers or pizza. It's a nice wine to have on hand if you feel like a glass when you get home from work.