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Merlot

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Planeta Sito dell Ulmo Merlot 2014 (1x 75cl)

As sampled at Exel Wines' November 2018 tasting. See here for the report of that evening.

In Planeta’s early years, expertise came from a surprising source: Australia. The winemaker brought in by Diego Planeta was an Italian – Carlo Corino – but one who had soaked in the latest warm-climate winemaking secrets during a stint in New South Wales. Ever since, Planeta has managed to captured the intrinsic perfume and fresh flavours of Sicily’s grapes in their wines.  The island estate pursued an unconventional approach to winemaking, with Planeta establishing a cult following for its barrel-aged Chardonnay, at a time when most other Italian whites were typically consumed straight out of the fermenter. This early success gave Planeta the credibility it needed to open the world’s eyes to the charms of Sicily’s indigenous grape varieties, ushering in a broad range of wines that today owes as much to Grecanico and Nero d’Avola as it does to the winery’s signature Chardonnay.

See blue link below for the excellent fiche technique/technical note from the winemakers themselves.

Planeta Sito dell Ulmo Merlot 2014 - fiche technique

100% Merlot.

A bewitching wine which gently overcomes you. Its uniqueness emerges in a particular way with a diverse but lively structure of tannins and with its strong and intensely savoury taste. This version of a densely ruby coloured Merlot, so rich with the sweet juice of black currant and candied violet which alternates with thyme and lavender, cannot pass unnoticed either by the palate of a refined taste or by that of an enthusiastic novice. It is a multi-faceted and intriguing red wine which combines the pleasure of tannin with an extraordinary persistence of taste.

ABV = 14.5%.

£21.25

Primera Luz Merlot 2018 (1x75cl)

Primera Luz is produced by Viñedos Puertas, a family-run business founded in 1950. The vineyard is comprised of 80 hectares of fields irrigated by water flowing down from the Andes Mountains, and a winery known as El Milagro, located at the heart of the Curico Valley. The wines embody the character of the region, and display brilliant freshness.

This wine is full of fresh, raspberry and strawberry aromas, with a light and juicy palate that is bursting with forest fruit. It is easy-drinking and moreish. This wine is a great match for many foods including lamb chops with coarse-grain mustard and red-tomato chutney, grilled lamb kebabs with cumin and cinnamon, or a duck salad.

ABV = 13.0%.

£7.30

Saint Clair Origin Merlot 2016 (1x75cl)

Neal and Judy Ibbotson were pioneers in the Marlborough wine industry, first planting vineyards in the valley in 1978 and then establishing Saint Clair Family Estate in 1994. They own 160 hectares of vineyard in 10 different Marlborough locations chosen specifically for the attributes of their individual "terroir" and ability to produce top quality grapes. Neal Ibbotson combines his extensive expertise in viticulture with the talent of one of New Zealand's leading winemaking teams led by Hamish Clark. Since 1994, when wines from the first vintage all won medals including gold, the name Saint Clair has been synonymous with quality and its award-winning record continues today. This is a sentiment shared by Bob Campbell MW, who says “Saint Clair now makes the country’s and perhaps the world’s best Sauvignon Blanc”.

The outstanding fruit was sourced predominantly from a single vineyard within the Gimblett Gravels area of Hawkes Bay. The vigour moderating, free draining, gravel soil provides a superb base for the low yielding Merlot. These vineyard sites have ideal ripening conditions for achieving the ripe berry aromatics and balanced tannin structure that Saint Clair Merlot exhibits. The fruit was carefully monitored during ripening; and harvested in the cool evening at maximum flavour maturity and physiological ripeness.

The grapes were destemmed into small stainless steel fermenters for a five-day cold soak to help maximise flavour and colour extraction. During fermentation, the wine was hand plunged and occasionally pumped over to gently extract flavour, colour and tannin. Following primary fermentation, the young wine was kept in contact with skins and tasted daily until the desired levels of extraction and balance had been achieved. Once pressed and settled, the wine was then racked to seasoned French oak where it underwent malolactic fermentation. The wine was aged on its light lees, lightly fined and carefully prepared for bottling.

A combination of dark fruit flavours with black plum and ripe blackberry and a touch of liquorice showing a powdered structure reminiscent of fine dark chocolate leading to a lightly spiced and toasty finish.

£13.30

Saint Clair Pioneer Block 17 Plateau Block Merlot 2016 (1x75cl)

Neal and Judy Ibbotson were pioneers in the Marlborough wine industry, first planting vineyards in the valley in 1978 and then establishing Saint Clair Family Estate in 1994. They own 160 hectares of vineyard in 10 different Marlborough locations chosen specifically for the attributes of their individual "terroir" and ability to produce top quality grapes. Neal Ibbotson combines his extensive expertise in viticulture with the talent of one of New Zealand's leading winemaking teams led by Hamish Clark. Since 1994, when wines from the first vintage all won medals including gold, the name Saint Clair has been synonymous with quality and its award-winning record continues today. This is a sentiment shared by Bob Campbell MW, who says “Saint Clair now makes the country’s and perhaps the world’s best Sauvignon Blanc”.

Good settled weather at flowering was followed by a cooler growing period on average, but dry. Some rain just after véraison and a short period of cooler weather looked likely to delay harvest, but settled warm dry weather through the remaining ripening period sped up the flavour development and ripening and contributed to harvest date comparable to most years.

This outstanding fruit was sourced from a single vineyard within the Gimblett Gravels winegrowing area of Hawkes bay. The vigour moderating, free draining gravel provides a superb base for this low cropping Merlot. The flat vineyard, sits atop a plateau with a gradual slope and is situated in a warm and sheltered site, which has ideal ripening conditions for achieving the full aromatic profile and tannin structure that Merlot can give. The fruit was carefully monitored during ripening and harvested in the cool evening at maximum flavour maturity and physiological ripeness.

The fruit was held cold for four days prior to the fermentation to help extract the maximum flavour and to enhance the colour stability. It was then inoculated to carry out the primary alcoholic fermentation, during which the fermenting must was hand plunged up to four times daily and pumped over the skins to help with extraction. When dry, the young wine was pressed and then racked off the gross lees to 50% new French oak and 50% seasoned French oak. The wine underwent a clean malolactic fermentation while ageing in oak for 11 months. It was then gently extracted from the oak, blended and carefully prepared for bottling.

A rich, full bodied and concentrated Merlot, which is loaded with layers of ripe dark berries, damson plums and dark chocolate. The texture is silky smooth with subtle flavours of new leather, cigar box and heated spices, leading to a long savoury finish.

Delicious with lightly spiced exotic dishes.

This wine is suitable for vegetarians.

£17.05

Saint Etalon Merlot Vin de Pays d'Oc 2016 (1x75cl)

Saint Etalon is made by Foncalieu, one of the most forward-looking, energetic and quality-focused cooperatives in France. Over 1,600 growers are members with over 7,500ha of vines spread right across the south of France.

Low temperature pre-fermentation takes place, which is then followed by a 3 week long alcoholic fermentation at controlled temperatures of 25-26°C. There is gentle extraction and pumping-over is also used. The wine is matured on its lees for another 3 weeks and completes its second fermentation in tanks.

This easy-drinking red wine has an elegant nose of ripe berry fruit. Well-balanced, round and smooth on the palate.

This wine is suitable for vegetarians and vegans.

£8.05

Steenberg Merlot 2016 (1x 75cl)

Steenberg was the Cape’s first farm, which was established in 1682 and has certainly come a long way from its humble beginnings. In addition to the vineyard there is now a restaurant, hotel and golf course for visitors to enjoy. The vineyard team at Steenberg always strive to give their best to the wines by cultivating the vineyards to produce the healthiest grapes of the best quality. Their philosophy is that the "wines are grown in the vineyard and then cared for in the winery". Special attention was therefore placed in obtaining the very best and latest known clones and matched to the correct soils and slopes. Environmentally considerate farming practices are employed as far as possible, with the help of non-toxic, natural formulas of pest control, and the employment of natural predators for help in keeping the grapes as healthy as possible.

This wine is 100% Merlot.

To see an excellent information sheet and tasting note for this wine, please click on the blue link below.

Steenberg Merlot 2016 - fiche technique

£15.40

Tenuta CastelGiocondo (Frescobaldi), Lamaione, Toscana 2015 (1x75cl)

CastelGiocondo epitomises the spirit of Montalcino. It is considered to be one of the most historical estates of Montalcino, as it was one of the first producers of Brunello di Montalcino during the 1800s. The vines are overlooked by the castle and the small medieval town of Montalcino. The combination of the unique location of the vineyard, which is situated at 300 to 400 metres altitude; the south western orientation, which benefits from the warming afternoon sun; and the free draining marl soil culminates to produce this top quality Sangiovese. The CastelGiocondo wines are distinguished by their opulence, power and extraordinary longevity.

The winter was warm, followed by a mid spring which encouraged an early budding. 2014 saw a mild summer with intermittent rains, which brought the growing season back to its normal progression. Heatwaves at the end of July and the beginning of August resulted in a positive véraison. The diurnal temperature differences promoted a gradual ripening of the fruit and warm weather conditions in September resulted in healthy grapes of excellent quality.

The Tenuta CastelGiocondo vineyard is located in Montalcino at 300 metres above sea level. 12 hectares of vines are grown in the Lamaione vineyard with a southwesterly exposure. The vines were planted in 1998, to a density of 5,500 vines per hectare and are low-spur pruned cordon trained. The clayey terrain is rich in limestone and mineral elements with a lightly alkaline pH.

The grapes were hand-harvested, destemmed and manually sorted. Fermentation took place in stainless steel vats at controlled temperatures of between 28 to 30°C with maceration lasting three weeks, extracting colour, flavour and fine tannins. The wine was matured for 24 months in 80% new French oak barriques, followed by a further 12 months bottle ageing.

See the blue link below for the excellent fiche technique/technical note from the winemakers themselves.

Tenuta CastelGiocondo, Lamaione, Toscana 2014 - fiche technique

100% Merlot.

Intense aromas of plum and black cherry with opulent hints of vanilla and toasty integrated oak. Powerful and voluptuous. An impressive bouquet of great aromatic richness and a complexity, Lamaione 2014 expresses blackcurrant, cherry, raspberry and delicate notes of vanilla and black pepper. On the palate, the wine is enveloping with velvety tannins and is rich in black berried fruit flavours that fill the palate with lingering persistence. Is tremendous with slow-cooked dishes such as pot roasts, stews with wild mushrooms or beef fillet.

 

£54.80

The Cannonball Wine Company Merlot 2016 (1x 75cl)

It all began for Cannonball in 2006 with one varietal, Cabernet, and the vision to produce one of the best value wines available. By combining the winemaking expertise of co-founder Dennis Hills with the keen sourcing knowledge and business acumen of the other co-founder, Yoav Gila, Cannonball Wines was born. Dedicated to innovation, with a commitment to authenticity, their mission is to spread their passion by offering wines they believe in. They love what they do, and their dedication and passion shows in every bottle!

To read an excellent and informative description of this wine from Cannonball themselves, please click on the blue link below.

Cannonball Merlot 2016 - fiche technique

£14.90

The Paddock Merlot 2017 (1x75cl)

The Paddock wines are named after the paddock fences which are a regular feature dotted across the rolling landscape of southern Australia. These classic Australian single varietals deliver easily accessible and fruity wines, popular with many Australian wine drinkers, as well as those further afield.

This easy-going Merlot has a deep red, ruby colour alongside a subtle violet bouquet with vanilla oak giving it complexity. The palate is rich, rounded and has firm tannins on the finish.

ABV = 14.0%.

£7.05

Thelema Merlot 2016 (1x 75cl)

Cabernet may be its trump card, but the origins of Thelema owe more to the wines of Burgundy than Bordeaux: it was a bottle of Puligny-Montrachet that lured Gyles Webb away from accountancy in Durban to winemaking in Stellenbosch. Armed with a winemaking degree and influenced by travels in Tuscany, Bordeaux and California, Gyles and his wife Barbara – a noted triathlete – bought Thelema, an old fruit farm high on the slopes of the Simonsberg mountain, in 1983.

This is the wilder side of Stellenbosch, where spotted leopards roam the vines and a combination of elevation and eucalyptus trees creates a much-prized style of Cabernet with a distinctively minty freshness. These days Gyles is Cellar Master, with the talented Schultz brothers (Rudi and Werner) responsible for the winemaking and vineyards respectively. But the philosophy remains true to Gyles’ original vision, centred on the principle of what he calls ‘benign neglect’ – minimal fining and filtration, and no use of commercial yeasts in the red wines. True too to the Thelema name, taken from the idealised concept of a new world order imagined by 16th century French monk, physician and writer Rabelais.

For the full data sheet and technical/tasting information from the winemakers themselves, click the blue link below.

Thelema Merlot 2016 - fiche technique

£16.25

Torreon De Paredes Merlot 2016 (1x75cl)

Since its founding, Torreón de Paredes has based its agricultural practices on a deep respect for nature and the environment. Along with the natural characteristics that make Chile a “Viticulture Paradise”, the team at Torreón de Paredes has always paid close attention to maintaining vineyard practices that are considered by experts to be among the most ecologically sound on the planet. The winery’s constant goal is not only to produce excellent wines, but to also create ecological wines made with great respect for nature and the ecosystem.

To see tasting notes for this wine from the winery, please click on the blue link below.

Torreon de Paredes Merlot Rengo 2016 - fiche technique

£8.65

Torreon De Paredes Merlot Reserva 2015 (1x75cl)

Since its founding, Torreón de Paredes has based its agricultural practices on a deep respect for nature and the environment. Along with the natural characteristics that make Chile a “Viticulture Paradise”, the team at Torreón de Paredes has always paid close attention to maintaining vineyard practices that are considered by experts to be among the most ecologically sound on the planet. The winery’s constant goal is not only to produce excellent wines, but to also create ecological wines made with great respect for nature and the ecosystem.

To see tasting notes for this wine from the winery, please click on the blue link below.

Torreon de Paredes Merlot Reserva 2014 - fiche technique

£11.05

Torreon De Paredes Merlot Reserva Privada (unfiltered) 2015 (1x75cl)

Since its founding, Torreón de Paredes has based its agricultural practices on a deep respect for nature and the environment. Along with the natural characteristics that make Chile a “Viticulture Paradise”, the team at Torreón de Paredes has always paid close attention to maintaining vineyard practices that are considered by experts to be among the most ecologically sound on the planet. The winery’s constant goal is not only to produce excellent wines, but to also create ecological wines made with great respect for nature and the ecosystem.

To see tasting notes for this wine from the winery, please click on the blue link below.

Torreon de Paredes Merlot Reserva Privada 2011 - fiche technique

£14.90

Truchard Merlot 2013 (1x75cl)

The Truchard family's wine tradition began in the U.S. over a century ago in 1887 when the Truchard winery was founded just outside Houston. Since 1973, when Tony and Jo Ann bought the present Truchard estate, it has grown to 400 acres, of which 280 acres are planted. After selling their grapes to premier wineries for 15 years, the Truchards began producing their own wines in 1989 to great acclaim. To accommodate the winery’s increased production, in 1998, they added an 11,000-square-foot wine cave to the premises.

We can do no better here than to direct you to the excellent fiche technique/technical note from the winemakers themselves.

Truchard Merlot 2013 - fiche technique

£24.70

Valdemoro Merlot 2018 (1x75cl)

Please take a look at the winemakers notes for the 2016 vintage of this wine by clicking the blue link below.

Valdemoro Merlot 2016 - fiche technique

£7.70
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