The 2014 Downes Merlot is sourced from a three-hectare plot, divided into five parcels representing the five clones grown on the site. The nose is quite youthful with notes of light cocoa powder and light baking spice shading the dark red plum fruit tones with a touch of meatiness coming through as well. Medium fuller bodied and showing youthful vibrancy and freshness, the fruit tones are deep red and lifted and touched up with graphite with good acidity and a note of minerality, while the tannins are firmer giving good supporting grip on the backend. Still youthfully clinched this should really come together with a year or two more of bottle age where it should show well for several more years after that.
90 pts Vinous/Tanzer
(no new oak): Good healthy dark red. Some distinctly herbal tones to the aromas of redcurrant, tobacco leaf, licorice and woodsmoke. 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 intriguing nevertheless.