($319; 100% merlot; 14% alcohol) Fully saturated deep ruby. Knockout nose reads like a textbook on world-class merlot from a warm site: ripe blackberry, blueberry, coffee, cocoa, violet and minerals. The palate delivers utterly pure, mesmerizingly deep flavors of cassis, delicate smoky plum and minerals. Wonderful balancing acidity keeps the ripe fruit dancing on your taste buds and extends the flavors on the long, creamy finish. This is probably the best young Messorio I have ever tasted, and my score might even be a little stingy. Like all recent vintages of Messorio, it did a complete turnaround a couple years after the vintage: six months ago it was wildly better than it was upon release, and now it's even finer. Time will tell if this beauty will ultimately outperform the great 2001; I'm betting it will.