The wines from Two Lads not only deserve, but I think sort of need, some time in the decanter before drinking. Yeah, I know, every young red should be aerated a bit, but these wines really come alive after around four or five hours of air exposure.
Cassis, cherry, mint, and peach are present on the nose.
Very nicely balanced - cherry, cola, eucalyptus, sassafras, strawberry, raspberry - fruity, spicy, with more than a spoonful of dirt. After it's opened an interesting stone fruit is coming through on the back palate - almost like a drop of nectarine juice got mixed in - it's stone fruit and it's not plum. As it opens a mild chocolate component comes through.
The finish.....remember when you used to bite the ends off of Twizzlers and then drink a Coke with it? Then, when the Coke is done, you eat the Twizzler and a fair amount of the candy flavor has faded and some of the Coke qualities have been absorbed? Imagine that used Twizzler put into a chocolate phosphate - take a sip and take a bite of the candy. There ya go.
I'm not sure how "varietal correct" this is - as a Merlot, I don't know if I'd expect what this wine delivered. As a wine, however, it's interesting and quite complex. At $35, this is a 'special occasion' pricing and would hardly be a disappointment.