Saturday, March 15, 2008

OAK LEAF VINEYARDS MERLOT - NV

This is the first of two wines that I'm tasting from California producer Oak Leaf Vineyards. The Merlot won a Silver Medal at the Hilton Head Wine Fest. What is so exciting about Oak Leaf wines? The price!

Move over TWO BUCK CHUCK!!! There's a producer in town. The suggested retail price is $1.97 in California and $2.97 in most other states. Available at Wal-Mart stores that carry wine.

13% alcohol and made from California grapes. Produced in Ripon, CA.

TASTING NOTES:

Transparent ruby color with a musty nose of grape juice and old oak wine barrels. Light-bodied with a thin watery edge. Incredibly smooth but not much taste. Faint flavors of black currant and dark fruit.

SCORE & RECOMMENDATION:

75 PTS
Even priced under 2 bucks, it is pretty hard to recommend this wine. There just isn't any flavor here. It is bland but not unpleasant. It is like drinking a watered down Gamay or thinned grape juice with alcohol. The one upside is that it is very smooth.

38 Comments:

  • I could not agree more with your evaluation. I paid $2.97 at Walmart and for the price you can't go wrong. It is smooth.. I am serving it with meatloaf to my husband.... I'll save the good stuff for guest!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thursday, April 03, 2008 7:08:00 PM  

  • I disagree. It's pleasant and the taste is quite okay. A great vin de Table for everyday. Better than some simple burgundys and bordeauxs that I tried in France in both Burgundy and Bordeaux.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thursday, April 10, 2008 9:31:00 AM  

  • This is an exceptional Merlot. It has a wonderful jammy rich berry flavor. It is ideal to drink alone or with foods. I would be willing to pay alot more just to continue drinking this excellent wine. Please don't raise the price but continue to produce this great wine. The chardonnay is also excellent but I am more a red wine kind of gal.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thursday, April 17, 2008 10:04:00 AM  

  • I was so amazed that I had to research it on line. I found out my dad got it at Walmart, and went and found it for $2.97. What a steal!
    Red wine enthusiast.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Friday, April 18, 2008 7:46:00 PM  

  • ABSOLUTLY THE BEST "BANG OF THE BUCK"...MERLOT OR CAB SAV IS A GREAT BUY...MEASURES UP TO MANY BRANDS $10 - $20...THIS WILL BE HARD TO BEAT COMPARIABLY

    By OpenID BMWO7, at Monday, April 28, 2008 6:05:00 PM  

  • After purchasing a bottle of the Oak Leaf Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon. I started to research Super Market exclusive wines and found that there are a lot of wines that are exclusive to certain stores. From 7-Eleven, Food Lion, and well you get the point. Most of these venders are small companies. Which give the wine a pleasant taste. I saw it on cheapwinecritics.com they have a section for exclusive wines. The site critiques wines under 12 bucks. I saw that Oak leaf vineyards cabernet sauvignon has more hits than any other wine on the site.

    By Anonymous Chris, at Tuesday, May 13, 2008 9:36:00 AM  

  • I believe the Oak Leaf Merlot to be a very nice wine for everyday occassions. It is definatelly a very affordable wine, which I believe delivers in the area of taste as well. Cheers.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Tuesday, May 20, 2008 8:59:00 PM  

  • I bought two bottles, one pricey and one a bargain. I quickly forgot which one was the bargain. A few days later I opened the Oak Leaf Merlot and enjoyed it very much. I figured that it had to be the pricey bottle and was happy to find out it was great and a bargain. What a find. I am heading out to buy a case.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sunday, June 15, 2008 1:58:00 PM  

  • Who care what the "pros" say... Let YOUR palette be your guide because price is not a predictable in taste.
    Enjoy the wine and the price.

    By Blogger Kathy, at Thursday, June 26, 2008 7:11:00 PM  

  • I have to say I am sooo amazed by this little gem! I opened the bottle not knowing what to expect. When I poured, sniffed & tasted, an immediate joy overcame me. And I found myself smiling warmly at this wonderful little treasure. I love the clean taste and the smoothness. Just what i have been searching for. Its ZEN in a bottle!!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Saturday, June 28, 2008 9:06:00 PM  

  • well it is drinkable but if you do enjoy wine and appreciate it you will not be found of this wine,
    if you drink wine for alcohol content or color you will be satisfied,
    very watery, strong taste of alcohol,
    not much fruit tastes out of it and it seems to me it might even be made on an unconventional way,
    not to mention the plastic cork
    i wouldn't buy it again but that's just me

    By Blogger janos, at Tuesday, July 22, 2008 10:09:00 AM  

  • It wasn't too bad - I mean, you get what you pay for. I've found the Cabernet Sauvignon to be too thin and a little too pink - not like the fuller bodied ones I've had before. However, it does go very well with chocolates, lamb, and chicken. I've experimented - and it's fun:) Now, to see what the White Zinfandel goes with...

    By Anonymous Inez, at Tuesday, August 05, 2008 12:52:00 AM  

  • I reacently purchesed this Marlot at a Walmart for $1.97, I am enjoying as I type this, I find it to be a little dryer than some others and a little watery but it is good enough for me, it is smooth and the price is right, an overall nice little wine, I would not serve it at a speical gathering but it would do for a casual get together when not everyone drinks beer, over all I would say not a bad choice.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sunday, August 17, 2008 12:23:00 AM  

  • My boyfriend and I enjoyed J Lohr cab as our "house" wine for a few years. We bought a bottle of the Oak Leaf merlot as an experiment. To our suprise, it's quite good! In fact, we decanted a bottle and brought it to friends' home for dinner - it was a HIT! Later that evening we fessed up where we bought it and how much it cost. Now, this is our house wine and I wouldn't be embarassed to serve it to guests. I've paid four, five, six times as much for a bottle and was very disappointed...

    By Blogger Wendy, at Friday, August 22, 2008 7:44:00 PM  

  • ALL of this stuff is RANCID!!!! I bought 2 bottles from wally world and my regular cheap-o Beringer's... I couldnt evendrink the Merlot from Oak leaf much less the Pinot, I racked my Beringers and it was happy in my mouth.. Ill spend the extra 2 bucks for a much better cheap wine.. OAK LEAF, YOU GUYS SUCK BALLS!!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sunday, August 24, 2008 6:33:00 PM  

  • I found the Merlot to be very nice for a everyday red wine. Light and fruity with a smooth yet quick finish. It has no lingering bitterness that I have found with other cheap reds. If you are looking for something big with a great nose then Oak Leaf is not it. But for a nice and light red especially during the summer heat, I would suggest trying Oak Leaf.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Friday, August 29, 2008 7:43:00 PM  

  • One day I random picked up a bottle of Oak Leaf Merlot at a Walmart in California to bring back home in Pennsylvania. I really didnt expect much of it because of the low price. I am Italian and I've had tasted so much wine in my life that I just couldnt believe the taste!!! I searched many state stores and noone has it here that I know of. I was wondering if anyone would know of a website where I can order it online. It has such a smooth taste that everyone enjoyed it!!!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Tuesday, October 07, 2008 5:34:00 PM  

  • i was in wal-mart looking for a bottle of wine that i would normally drink. I was told by a buyer of oak leaf to try it, that i couldnt go wrong, she was so right. The Merlot is very nice. i went back the next day and purchased the rest in the store. (24 bottles). you cant go wrong a really nice wine.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Tuesday, October 07, 2008 6:38:00 PM  

  • OK, I'm looking at the bottle I just bought at Wal-Mart and I want to give it a try but I'm afraid to open the bottle. So, I've read through a few comments here and I'm feeling more like taking the plunge. Heck even in a down-turned economy, $2.97 is an awesome deal if it will make a good 'house' wine. TALUS Merlot has always been my favorite house wine to date... so I will post another comment and let everyone know how it compares (in my mind & taste buds) to TALUS. Sterling actually makes one of my absolute best "better" Merlots. :)

    By Anonymous Gen, at Thursday, October 30, 2008 3:40:00 PM  

  • Oak Leaf is $2.97 a bottle at Walmart, and Bay Bridge is 3 for $10 at Kroger grocery chain. They are both from Ripon, both use the same corks, same bottles, and quite frankly, taste the same. Is this one company that uses a variety of labels?

    By Blogger Michele, at Thursday, October 30, 2008 8:16:00 PM  

  • i'm drinking a bottle of merlot at this moment. I buyed a oak leaf merlot like a experiment, and i have to say it's a very good wine, it has a very well-balanced relation cost-quality, as others say "you get what you pay". At mouth, to me it's a little tannic, but at the nose it has some intersting essences of dark fruit, however is his very light body what it makes him a wine for pass a good time whitout complications.

    By Blogger Un errar soy sin sentido, at Sunday, November 09, 2008 2:00:00 AM  

  • I have tried three of this labels wines, two reds and a white. I find it interesting that such an inexpensive wine can offer the level of quality for the price. They certainly are not 90 point wines but, in my opinion, they beat several 85 point wines costing from $20 to $30 per bottle. I drink the Oak Leaf with my meals at home and it is quite acceptable. I would not take it to a friends home as a gift but I would tell him about it and suggest he try it.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Friday, November 14, 2008 3:59:00 PM  

  • On a whim I picked up a bottle of the Oak Leaf Merlot and the Cab last night at wally world for $2.97 ea. Had the cab with dinner last night and sorry to say it was awful. Had an okay nose and pleasant taste, but the lingering aftertaste was truly horrific. Like a puddle of liquid on the pavement underneath a dead elk that had been hit by a semi truck, in July. It was all I could do to gag it down. However I was pleasantly surprised by the Merlot. Dark fruit, plummy, light bodied with a nice finish and no lingering roadkill aftertaste like the cab. I may have found my new table wine. I think this years harvest must have been better for the Merlot than last, based on the earlier comments here. 80-85 from me on the Merlot. Try it if you haven't, steer clear of this years cab.

    By Blogger Ben, at Tuesday, November 18, 2008 2:44:00 PM  

  • I'm looking at bottles of Oak Leaf Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, and a blend, Pinot Grigio/Chenin Blanc. Bought on price, and I'm not too fussy. So I'll soon post comments on these bottles. If they stack up as a reasonable vin ordinaire I will be thinking case lots, but if they are no good, I'll say so. I don't buy Gallo, there's better stuff for less. On the other hand, I've bought Almaden-inna-box and probably will do so again...

    I'll let you know which one goes best with kudzu casserole!

    By Anonymous Kudzuisedible, at Thursday, January 08, 2009 2:57:00 PM  

  • I am not much of a wine drinker, but after trying Oak Leaf Merlot I may have to change that. Being someone who has not tasted many "fine wines" I cant do much comparison. But i can say that this is not bad for the price.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Saturday, February 14, 2009 4:11:00 PM  

  • love-love the Merlot. Compares to the $13-18 a bottle at my Wine Club. I'ld serve this to any of my friends.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wednesday, March 11, 2009 11:48:00 PM  

  • I bought the Merlot and in my case I served it to one of my friends who is a genuine wine connoisseur. I just told him to taste this wine and I didn't tell him what brand it was and he loved it!!!! I finally told him that it was Oak Leaf and the price. He couldn't believe me! He thought I was just pulling his leg, lol!!!

    By Blogger Mario, at Wednesday, March 18, 2009 4:59:00 PM  

  • It's definitely light-bodied. My wine-loving neighbor did not like it. However, I find it is much like a cabernet franc. My guess is that this is a blend with 51% merlot combined with cab franc and other cheap grapes. Is there any information about the varietal composition? Like lots of light-bodied wine, it is better chilled.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wednesday, May 20, 2009 4:49:00 PM  

  • Traveling in VA on a trip, my wife and I hurredly stopped at Walmart to get some wine. We got a bottle of Oak Leaf Shiraz just to experiment with, and my wife loved it! On the way home, we stocked up, as in our state, you can only buy wine in liquor stores, and there is no $2.97 wine, and we've never had a bottle under $8 that even compares to this! To those who say they don't like Oak Leaf wines, try a blindfolded test -the price may be biasing your assessment. This is good stuff!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Tuesday, September 01, 2009 8:31:00 AM  

  • I have been drinking Oak leaf for months and really think it is great. However, I think they just changed the formula. The box Chardonney is horrible.
    Now, I have noticed a difference in taste to others. Really worried.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Saturday, September 12, 2009 9:57:00 PM  

  • I agree, I've had $30-$50 wines, that didn't taste this good. I've been to tons of tastings, this wine chilled will stack up with any merlot. Everyone tastes something different in a wine, this will not disappoint, for $2.97 or 5 times that amount. (

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wednesday, October 28, 2009 5:29:00 PM  

  • I love this wine! It's so good to be true I started thinking there has to be a catch and started reseaching online. I haven't found a catch, YET. :) I prefere this wine over so many becuase 1. it doesn't give me a headache or hangover, 2. the price can't be beat! 3. It tastes so smooth and good. It's not bitter or sweet. 4. It goes well with food or alone.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Friday, January 15, 2010 10:05:00 AM  

  • Good people of planet Earth, this stuff comes out of a water hose. It's the left over grapes no one else wanted! Please take your $3 and stop by your local wine shop, which is probably in the same strip mall, and tell any guy/gal in the store, "Hey I was about to spend $3 on wine at Wallyworld" THEY WON'T KICK YOU OUT!!!, They will simply give you a REAL wine from Portugal, Argentina or Chile that IS 10X as palatable and only cents more (go home and check the in between the couch cushions)

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Tuesday, August 24, 2010 12:39:00 AM  

  • Just picked up a bottle of Oak Leaf Chardonnay and was impressed! No, it's not the best chardonnay ever but there are no off flavors and is very drinkable. The price: very nice. I'm looking forward to trying some of the other varietals.

    By Anonymous The Black Hills Locavore, at Saturday, October 23, 2010 10:49:00 AM  

  • I buy this stuff constantly. It's pleasant enough to drink, but excellent to cook with. Boil down an entire bottle of merlot with two cups of sugar. Serve with strawberries and chocolate and you will see what I mean. This has turned into a staple whenever I cater.

    By Blogger DL, at Monday, January 03, 2011 2:50:00 PM  

  • rhatiI buy the merlot and the cab, sau. at walmart for $9.97 for three liters in a carton with a regular spigot on them. I was told by heart specialts that red wine was good for me and I grew up drinking homemade real italion wine. My uncle's wife was born in Italy and her father made it and it was served like we serve tea. The oakleaf brands are very very good. It doesn't matter what a bunch of so called wine experts. I have found in 77yrs. that mos othe esperts or like most of our govm't officials. They don't have a clue to anything.Warren

    By Anonymous Warren, at Saturday, October 08, 2011 2:47:00 PM  

  • Instead of restating what many other's here did, I will just state that I fully agree with them that if you suspend your knowledge of the price and where you purchased it (Wal-Mart) and TRULY judge it on taste, drink ability and alcohol content, you CAN NOT lose with these wines. They all do have FLAVOR. Most interesting to me though: EVERY mid to low-end wine company sets their prices of their wine products by each wine alcohol content. (Gallo, Franzia, Ingelnook, ect.) Even when these wines are on 'sale' at major retailers, it's interesting to not that saw a low alcohol content wine like Sangria will be lowest, a mid alcohol content wine like white zinfandels will be a bit more and, the highest alcohol content wine's, such as usually the Chardonnay's, are the most costly. Yet, surprisingly and refreshingly, I found at the very large Oak Leaf wine display at my local Wal-Mart, that when they said the Oak Leaf wines were like $2.97, they meant ANY of the full family of wines was available for that choice! That is not standard practice with any other brand. I actually prefer a Chardonnay and expect to have to pay more since it one of the highest alcohol content wines. Yet, it was $2.97 at (12.5%) ALC by volume. Just as well as Zinfandel at (10%)ALC by volume. Final point being: A Chardonnay, with it's high alcohol content, can be a 'harsh' tasting wine, even one's produced by some of the bigger names in the business. This Oak Leaf Chardonnay was VERY drinkable, full of fruit flavor and not in anyway alcohol tasting. What more can you ask for? No, I did not expect it or believe it could be true. Heck, regular ole 100% grape juice in the juice isle costs this much. To have a winery put the effort in to create a truly good tasting drinking wine without over marketing and over pricing it? Trying to keep wine drinking among the folks who prefer to stay away from beer and/or hard distilled spirits? I saw, CONGRATULATIONS to them and hat's off! I wish them much success.

    By Blogger SkaaTeeBoy, at Tuesday, January 03, 2012 11:50:00 PM  

  • Don't like the plastic cork. Tried to like the taste. I found it for $2.97 and thought that it was the same one that I had enjoyed on a recent occassion. It wasn't. However, for $4, one might rather purchas Oak Vinyard Merlot. Only about a dollar difference in price, but a genuine difference in taste. I believe Oak Vineyard can be purchased at Kroger and is a much more likeable "cheap thrill."

    By Blogger Phyllis Hill, at Friday, July 20, 2012 3:04:00 PM  

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