When this wine was opened I smelled plum, pepper, and cherry in that order, but all briefly. It was a dull milky red in color. Mostly tasted pepper and cherry at first, but then the oakiness seeped out, too, with a mild plum and cherry finish. Also caught two faint spots of candy apple and one hint of baked raisin.
On the first day this wine seemed like it couldn't make up it's mind what to do, and then on the second day it had a rather solid oak and burnt wood taste on top of the remaining fruit. Rather unappealing.
In my wine experiences, I have usually found Merlot to be lacking. Perhaps I have just been unlucky, but I'll keep experimenting and searching.
I have got a 1997 Judd Hill Merlot Knight's Valley Summers Ranch, a 1999 Camelot Merlot California, and a 2000 Blackstone Merlot California. I have considered buying a 1999 Duckhorn, but the $74 at a local NH State Liquor Store would be the first time I've paid over $50 for a bottle. I'm not sure I want to do this with a grape I've had less than satisfactory success with.
We'll see what happen's!