An empty bottle of merlot is a rare sight at my house. I'm happy to taste merlot but that, generally, is as far as it goes. This, however, is a major step above most Australian merlots, a bit like Arsenal playing Accrington Stanley. For some reason merlot works spectacularly well on dry block 8 at The Lane Vineyard, up in the cool-climate Adelaide Hills. This is a really lovely wine; soft and supple as you'd expect from merlot but also full of brambly flavours and with good length. Compared to most of its rivals its just a little bit cheeky, with some unexpected richness and textural interest. Lovely stuff. $39. www.thelane.com.au.