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, 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.
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.