John, I've had a number of excellent WA merlots. Some have required a bit of oak tolerance, but reports are that the state style is trending away from that. I've liked Andrew Will, L'Ecole 41 and Donadei perhaps best of all, and have been very impressed with a few from the 94 and 95 vintages that have aged very well. But overall I'm more impressed with a number of the South Africans I've had, in large part no doubt because stylistically they're more like old world wines. It was in fact South African merlots that cured me of my ambivalence to that grape--drinking merlot in California had had the opposite effect on me.
And yes, really sorry to have missed yesterday, but I definitely had to be here. Just one of those things.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov