Fidelitas 2000 Meritage (Columbia Valley (WA))

A 62% Cab/38% Merlot blend with a dark side. Winemaker Charlie Hoppes goes after the licorice/smoke/tar/toast elements, but matches them to perfectly ripe fruit that is balanced with acid and tannin. Alcohol comes in at a sensible 14.1%, proving that big wines need not be hot and raisiny. Drink this one young. Paul Gregutt

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