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2007 C Squared Merlot 

Sonoma, California / $25 Retail

The 100 percent Merlot fruit for this high quality bottling was sourced from Bennett Valley, one of Sonoma's newest and smallest viticultural designations, from vineyards owned by New Orleanians Bonnie and Ron Christner. The wine is aged 18 months in 25 to 30 percent new French oak. It exudes complex layers of heady dark fruit aromas and flavors with cedar notes, black fruit and a touch of anise. Well-balanced with integrated tannins, the wine offers pepper nuances and dried berries on the long, lingering finish. Decant at least an hour before serving. Pair it with roast meats, game, Italian cuisine or good cheese. Buy it at: Rouses in Uptown. Drink it at: Coquette, Le Foret, Upperline, Brennan's and Royal Palm.

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