Yes, this seems like an odd choice for the Wine Curmudgeon, even for the expensive wine feature. It's a California merlot made, more or less, by the same people who make Silver Oak, which is a grape and a style of wine I'm not especially fond of. But, as I always insist, one should not judge the wine until after one tastes it.
And the Twomey ($40, sample) is very much worth tasting. I don't know that it's quite the French-style wine that the tasting notes say it is; it tastes very Napa Valley, though without many of the excesses that other wines of this kind have. How else do I know this? Many comments on CellarTracker for the Twomey are particularly vehement (and not fit for a family blog like this), criticizing the wine for not being big and over the top enough. There is even a plea for CellarTracker users to unite and overthrow the tyranny of wine critics, since the latter were so wrong about this wine. And, apparently, many retailers have been heavily discounting this vintage.
Otherwise, the Twomey features beautiful fruit made in the Silver Oak style — soft, rich and velvety. The longer the wine sits open, the more the parts come out, and the parts are impressive, mostly equal parts oak, chocolate, and red fruit. Let this sit for 20 or 30 minutes before you drink it, and pair with it with beef and anything with red wine sauces.
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, a special all red wines edition.
? Bonny Doon Contra 2009 ($14, sample): This Rhone blend is not exactly an upscale version of the old Big House Red, but it’s close enough. Lots of spice and fruit, though it does need food.
? William Hill Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 ($23, sample): A surprisingly well done and balanced Napa cabernet that is more or less affordable. It’s a step up from more inexpensive cabernets like Avalon and 337, with more body and structure.
? 181 Merlot 2008 ($15, sample): A merlot from the same company that does the 337 cabernet sauvignon. Offers structure and substance for less than $25, which doesn’t happen often. On the other hand, the tasting notes compare Lodi, where the grapes are from, to merlot’s Garden of Eden in Pomerol, which is a bit much.
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.
? Michel Torino Malbec Ros 2009 ($12, sample): Surprisingly disappointing, given how well-made so many Argentine wines are at this price. There's nothing especially wrong with it; rather, it doesn't deliver anything that most $8 or $10 roses don't.
? Grgich Hills Estate Grown Merlot 2006 ($42, sample): The kind of red wine that helped California establish its reputation as one of the world's great wine regions — and, best yet, it's not overpriced. Holiday gift? It's still young, with cherry fruit in the middle, but a mushroomy nose and lots of finish. Should improve with age.
? Domaine de Carobelle Gigondas 2008 ($20, purchased): A terrific value at $15 and an excellent example of the Rhone's Gigondas region, with dark fruit and pepper. But the weak dollar (or a greedy retailer?) has done this red wine in, given that one can buy really nice wine for $20.
? Le Jaja de Jau 2007 ($11, purchased): This red is New World-style wine wine in Old World clothing, with a lot of fruit and not much subtlety. It's not bad, just not what it was when it was one of the world's great cheap wines (and it's also twice the price).