The Little Penguin Merlot

by Adrian Bryksa

The Little Penguin Merlot

Vintage: 2007

Region: South Eastern Australia

Varietal: Merlot

Alcohol: 13.5%

Price: $11.99

I often find myself wandering through my local wine market, perusing the bottles that line the shelves. I find myself picking up bottles, reading the labels and examining the packaging and wondering what makes the average consumer choose it over the countless others in the sea of similarly priced products. When it comes to wine, finding the answers to these questions is critical for a producer to make their product desirable. I take requests for reviews and was asked by my executive editor to review some wine that is a bit lower on the price scale. I am only happy to oblige and after talking to a fellow lover of the juice, I took on the task of reviewing one of his entry points into the world of wine, The Little Penguin Merlot. I know little to nothing about the producer, the terroir or their methods and that they produce 6 different varietials of flashy, fun and approachable wine.

Upon the first swish of this wine, and peer at it through the light, this Merlot shows a clear vibrant red tone not like wine but more like sort of like a bit richer glass of strawberry Kool-Aid. The first sniff gives way to a sort of fortified fruit punch smell, like one of those wine coolers that has lost all its fizz. The smell of sugar also is quite punctuated, indicating to me that imbibing too much of this might lead to a dreaded red wine hangover. Upon the first taste, an alcoholic fruit punch flavor really shows; a lot like Hi-C fruit punch from back in the day. Again, the sugar in this wine is really evident and I can safely say that this Merlot is like none of the others that I have recently tasted. I am sure this wine strikes a chord with lovers of sweet white wines who want the exact same type of experience presented as a red. Following completely through, the finish falls flat and I don’t find myself getting overly excited for the follow up taste.

Sadly, this little merlot lacks the structure and complexity that matter to even be considered something exciting even as a table wine. Fear not though friends, wines like this are excellent to have on hand or to have been received as a gift, especially if you are entertaining, since wine like it is best served at the end of the night, when your guests may not be as discerning as they were when they arrived. Personally, I would suggest that for $12, the average consumer could buy something of much more considerable substance and style that may not have the bright blue labeling or the cute little penguin such as examples like Chilean Cabs, Spanish Rioja or an entry level Beaujolais.

67 points

  • The Little Penguin Merlot
  • by Adrian Bryksa
  • Published on September 24th, 2008

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