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92 pts Tim Atkin MW
This is the most of Shannon’s three Merlots, but it’s still better than the majority of Cape examples of the grape. Produced from a co-fermentation of five different clones, this is like a scaled down version of Mount Bullet, with lots of color, refined tannins, a hint of oak and silky, granular fruit flavors. 2021-25
90 points Wine Advocate #253 Feb 2021
Displaying both juicy red and black fruit scents balanced with oak, earth and spice tones in the glass, the 2018 Downes Family Merlot begins with layers of sage, juicy plum and dusty dark cherry before aromas of black spice and cedar appear in the glass. Flavors of oak, dark chocolate, cherry and black tea present themselves on the palate of the medium to full-bodied wine. The mouthfeel is still youthful and tight, showing firm, structured tannins, but it ends with a delightfully complex and evolving finish that will allow this to age until its 10th birthday. Nicely done. 2021-2028
The grapes are picked from a small 3 hectare vineyard. The vineyard is divided up into 5 different parcels each with its own respective clone and these are all picked together for a 5 way clonal co-ferment. The bunches are chilled to 3ºC before being sorted on a conveyor and destemmed. Berries are hand sorted, before cold maceration ensues for 3 to 6 days at 8ºC. The 5 way clonal ferment is inoculated with a commercial winemaking yeast. Fermentation temperatures vary between 26 – 30ºC. After pressing, the wine is racked and left to complete its malolactic fermentation and maturation in old 4 to 5 year old French oak barriques for 9 months.
Alcohol: 13.5 %
Acidity; 5.6 g/l
Residual sugar: 2.9 g/l
Considerable emphasis is placed on maximising 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 inculated ferment and only two to three “punch downs” daily, retains silkiness and elegance.
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