Category Archives: Merlot

Merlot

2004 La Chapelle de La Mission Haut-Brion

 

IMG_9277_MediumOver the weekend we uncorked and reviewed a half bottle (375ml) of the 2004 La Chapelle de La Mission Haut-Brion from the Pessac-Léognan appellation in the Bordeaux region of south western France.  We actually bought this bottle in 2009 when we were touring through Bordeaux city itself.  The bottle has been cellared in Australia since then, and has matured very well.

This is a second wine from the critically acclaimed Château La Mission Haut-Brion which is was originally a part of the vineyard (Haut-Brion) first classified a first growth as part of the famous 1855 Bordeaux classification.  The estate has since been considered a first growth in it’s own right by the Liv-ex Bordeaux classification in 2009. 

The estate’s first wine/first label is routinely found to be the equal, or indeed seen to outperform, the more prominent sister estate, Château Haut-Brion.

IMG_9280_MediumWe decanted the half bottle into a Riedel decanter and let it breathe for about a half hour.  The cork was of a very high quality, and the seal was in immaculate condition, even after ten years.  In fact, the seal was so tight, it was  no minor effort to uncork the bottle!  This may mean that similar bottles may well live on for many, many more years to come should the cork and seal be of similar high standard.

IMG_9276_MediumThis proved far too short, and the initial taste found the wine to be too tart and chalky.  Letting it sit an extra hour produced dramatic differences when compared to the first sip – the tartness disappeared and the wealth of refined tannins were revealed.   The bouquet contained a highly perfumed and softly sweet scent, accentuated with each swirl from the glass.

For the occasion, AWG selected Riedel ‘Sommelier” series Bordeaux glasses – these are massive glasses, hand blown and cost a tiny fortune per glass.  The up side of such fine glasses is the capacity for oxidization in the glass, coupled with the excellent ability to retain much of the nose of the wine. 

IMG_9281_MediumIn this particular case, it highlighted the virtues of a well crafted fine wine – well balanced acidity, currants with a hint of cloves.

As you can see from the pictures, the wine had an excellent colour and presented very well.  We would most certainly not hesitate to taste another bottle, or perhaps even move to the first label in the same year.  One thing is for certain, there’s plenty of life left in this vintage, it could cellar comfortably for another ten years potentially, despite the cork.

This bottle was a real treat, and we recommend it to fans of tightly crafted Cabernet blends. 

The half bottle size is also convenient for those on a budget and who would still like to sample from an excellent range of normally quite pricey Bordeaux wines.  The second label/second wine also offers a unique insight into the quality of wine being produced by the big labels.

2008 Pillitteri Estates Merlot Icewine

IMG_8558_Medium

Last month we were lucky enough to be able to uncork this extravagant and scarce Merlot icewine, which was generously gifted by a good friend and co-worker of mine (many thanks again, Jenny!).

This particular bottle came from a Canadian estate on the Niagara Peninsula in Ontario  known as Pillitteri Estates.  Their website is an excellent source of information about icewine as well as details about how it is produced.

Since the process of making icewine involves freezing the grapes, the amount of icewine produced is quite small when compared to a normal yield under less than freezing conditions. IMG_8555_Medium As a result, icewine is fairly expensive and typically sold in smaller amounts.

This particular bottle was chilled before serving.  The wine was a brilliant amber/red colour and was incredibly viscous (sticky) as befits a dessert wine.  This was the first Merlot based icewine we’d tasted, and although it lacked the zest found in Vidal, it possessed a more refined taste concentrated with hints of stone fruit.

Merlot tends to restrain the acidity and balance the sweetness better than the more common Vidal icewines, and this wine is a good example.  We served the icewine in Orrefors dessert wine glasses, and the drop – as expected – hit the spot.  It was so good, we forgot to get a photo before the bottle ran dry!

In true Aussie Wine Guy fashion, the rule here is that we don’t open a bottle of icewine unless there’s another in reserve. 

Our next icewine will be from well known producer Inniskillin