Mini-reviews 22: Bota Box, Raymond, Fess Parker, Freemark Abbey

Reviews of wines that don ?t need their own post, but are worth noting for one reason or another. Look for it on the final Friday of each month. This month, an all California lineup:

? Bota Box Malbec 2009 ($18 for a 3-liter box, sample): Wine for people who aren't all that fussy about what their wine tastes like. Lots of sweet blackberry fruit without much tannin or acid.

? Raymond Merlot Reserve 2007 ($23, sample): A fair bit of merlot character, which means it's not as fruity as other California merlots at this price and even (dare I say?) a little more subtle. A step up from the $15 merlots that so many people drink.

? Fess Parker Syrah 2007 ($24, sample): Big, huge syrah with traditional bacon fat aroma, lots of rich, black fruit and 14.9 percent alcohol. If you like this style of wine, you'll love this wine.

? Freemark Abbey Viognier 2009 ($27, sample): I didn't think there was any way I would appreciate this, given that it was oaked and had 14.5 percent alcohol. But it was mostly in balance, with apricot fruit and peach pit finish.

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