Also recommended: 2004 Hillcot Merlot Barossa (85). (Wilson Daniels, St. Helena, CA)
($14) Light gold. Honeyed pear and apple aromas are complemented by hints of sweet butter and anise. Ripe pear and orange on the palate, which shows a creamy texture and good depth. The orange note echoes on the warm, supple finish, which features a gentle note of buttery brioche.
($14) Ruby-red. Subdued cherry and plum on the nose, which opens slowly to show bitter chocolate and candied licorice. Tangy, youthfully taut dark berry flavors possess good energy and cut but seem a tad clenched now. Will this gain in flesh with a bit of time in bottle?
($19) Inky ruby. Crushed blackberry and boysenberry scents are complicated by gunflint. Juicy dark berry flavors show a youthful bitterness and are supported by bright acidity. Tannins build on the finish but are in harmony with the sweet berry qualities. Another year should loosen this one up.
($31) Dark red. Spicy, herb-accented red berries and cherry on the nose, with a deeper tobacco note adding complexity. Taut, minerally cherry and cherry pit flavors are braced by firm tannins and bright acidity. Youthfully wound up on the finish, which features a musky licorice quality. Will time in bottle bring more pliancy?
($95) Ruby-red. Intensely perfumed nose features ripe cherry, blackberry and cassis accented by sexy vanillin oak and violet. Deep, rich and suave, with jammy dark berry and plum flavors, youthful tannins and pronounced notes of oak spice. But this is more harmonious than the 2001 I tasted last year. Finishes sweet, juicy and very long.