Clos du Bois has long been a reliable label on restaurant wine lists and supermarket shelves, as well as in wine shops. Like many of its fellow Sonoma County wineries, it produces wines in multiple tiers: the value-priced Classics that are most common in supermarkets, the Reserve wines that are sourced from single appellations within the county, and the Proprietary series sourced from the best grapes of the harvest and made in smaller quantities than either of the other two tiers.
The 2007 Clos du Bois Alexander Valley Merlot (about $22 at wine shops and wine-savvy markets) is solidly of the middle tier, the Reserve series, and is both a fine example of merlot winemaking and an excellent table wine.
Its distinctive nose features fig and cherry with a nice clove edge for spice. On the tongue are the dark chocolate and ripe black cherry you'd expect, but also a little bramble bite more common in zins, as well as the clove observed on the nose. The finish is medium long and as velvety as the first burst of fruit, with the chocolate lingering all the way through and kicked up at the end with a bit of black pepper. All in all, this is a complex merlot well worth savoring.
For food pairings, we're sticking with the basics: red meat and rich pasta dishes.
By Colette and John Bancroft. She is the Times' book editor, and he is a freelance writer specializing in food, wine and travel. For an index and archive of reviews, go to pictograph.com.