Does the word Meritage rhyme with heritage or triage? According to the Meritage Association, it rhymes with heritage. In any event, it's basically a Bordeaux or claret blend made in California. Typically a Meritage starts at around $20 and goes up, but tonight I found one for $12 from a producer I've enjoyed in the past: the 2003 Hayman & Hill Meritage. (No website found.)
This Monterey County blend is 41% Merlot, 38% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Cabernet Franc, 7% Petite Verdot, and 4% Malbec. There's a little tobacco on the nose, good black cherry flavors on the tongue, and surprisingly firm tannins. I think it could do with another year in the bottle, but it's definitely drinkable now. Good to go with a steak, a burger, or similar hearty fare. I really love Bordeaux-style blends but don't always feel like spending $20-40 to satisfy that craving. This is a nice alternative.
I still prefer their Shiraz-Viognier, but this is a close second.