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Downes Family Merlot 2014

Downes Family Vineyards Merlot 2018

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90 pts Stephen Tanzer – (no new oak): Good healthy dark red. Some distinctly herbal tones to the aromas of redcurrant, tobacco leaf, licorice and wood smoke. Surprisingly intense on the palate in a penetrating, savory style, with cherry, redcurrant, and tobacco flavors framed by brisk peppery acidity. In a distinctly Old World mold, but I can see this wine mellowing and deepening with bottle age. Finishes with a fine dusting of tannins and very good lift and length. Note that this is not the winery’s flagship Mount Bullet Merlot, but it’s very intriguing nevertheless.


Considerable emphasis is placed on maximizing the different French and Italian merlot expressions in the vineyard but picked and vinified all together and matured in older French barrels before final blending. The wine has a fragrance of ripe red fruits such as plums and dark cherries, with earthy complexity and yet still expressing minerality. Maintaining a good acidity lends to outstanding freshness with a well integrated ripe and seductive tannin structure. Incorporating a minimal winemaking intervention approach, apart from the inoculated ferment and only two to three “punch downs” daily, retains silkiness and elegance.