That would be the 2007 Billy K Estate Merlot – from Alfaro Family Vineyards.

A tasty tipple indeed (I can’t believe I am recommending a merlot!), this is an enlightened wine with enough macho moves to please cab drinkers, and enough finesse to play hide ‘n’ seek with your favorite pinot.

The initial nose yielded apple, leather and plum, turning to sassafras and bacon – substantial and crying out for bbq chicken or pulled pork. We found it interesting in its own right, with a complex central core, and perfect for partnering most entrees this side of scallops.

Named for Richard Alfaro’s late father-in-law Billy Kempker, the wine is all estate, a beautiful ruby color and balanced to drink now, or age for a few years. At 14.5% alcohol this makes for a well-spent $30.