Laithwaites under their 100% Satisfaction Guarantee (see here for how it works) - along with the few others sent along as replacements for some wines I had thought were not great, it was presumably intended to be an example of their most popular, flagship wines.
In the mid-level, in a warm climate, Merlot generally produces likable-enough wines with plenty of flavour and a pleasantly soft texture - it scores high as a crowd-pleaser with plenty to enjoy and nothing too challenging or serious.
This South African example, however, feels more like a hothouse wine, with lots of baked up-front New World character, cherries, prunes and figs plus some vanilla and spice.
With lots of perfumey aromas, this wine then is more about juicy ripeness and sheer quantity of flavours than texture, structure, restraint or finesse.
Thankfully though, it's also reasonably balanced with good acidity and neither too sweet nor too jammy - however, it does have a rather baked, blueberry, perfumey aroma on the finish which is not to my taste and almost unpleasant. A bit like sitting next to someone who has given themselves a few too many squirts of Chanel No 5, in moderation it would be nice, but not when excessively done.
We had this with a simple margherita pizza and it matched well enough - rather like a loud guest at a party, it would have overpowered anything more subtle or sophisticated.
I gave this wine a pretty low review score on the Laithwaites website and, perhaps predictably, they sent me a money-off voucher as recompense. I have to say I have not spent it yet and that was several months ago now.
£6.99 from Laithwaites, it's also Fairtrade.
Laithwaite's - http://www.laithwaites.co.uk/