Merlot can act a bit like Cher to Sonny when it comes to covering up cabernet sauvignon's deficiencies (probably an unfair judgement!). So if you find yourself in the predicament of purchasing cabernet from a region which isn't necessarily recognised for the style, it could be considered rational thinking to opt for a cabernet merlot over a straight cabernet sauvignon.
Shaw Vineyard Estate's 2008 Cabernet Merlot displays clear varietal character on the nose, as it opens to lighter scents of olive and herb partnered by blackcurrant and graphite, with a minty tone of older chocolate/vanilla oak sitting happily in the background. Rich and juicy, condensed flavours of bright blackcurrants and dark plum announce the palate, which evolves with smooth chocolate-like undertones and lingering tones of minty/herbal freshness. It's medium-bodied, pleasingly dry and dusty for the most part, with an approachable level of seamless structure imparted by integrated tannins and bright acid.
ü Straight forward it may be but it's also charmingly varietal (in a soft sense), ably balanced and beautifully set for the shorter term. A good cabernet blend from the nation's capital. Drink to 2014.