2016 Cabernet Merlot
80% Cabernet Sauvignon 15% Merlot 5% Petit Verdot
Production: 2601 bottles
The Cabernet portion of this wine came from 4 select vineyards. Three of the sites lie in the real ‘Dress Circle’ of Margaret River viticulture in the heart of the Wilyabrup sub-region. This area of Margaret River has shown year after year that it can deliver incredible fruit quality and the finest of our fine wines are produced from fruit grown here. The other Cabernet vineyard is located in the Walcliffe sub-region of Margaret River, with a northerly exposure and around 4km from the Indian Ocean on the banks of the Margaret River itself. Sitting high on this hillside, the vines grow in gravelly, well drained soil and experience fantastic exposure to the warm summer sunshine and regular, cooling sea breezes.
The Merlot portion of the blend is from a special old vineyard. One of the oldest and most historic in the entire Margaret River district, this Wilyabrup site displays all of the most sought after vineyard characteristics. Of particular note is that the vines are old – around 45 years old and un-irrigated, which leads to production of a Merlot wine with amazing depth and complexity.
The Petit Verdot for the blend comes from 22 year old vines growing on a gentle north sloping vineyard also in the Wilyabrup subregion of Margaret River. The soil is very gravelly and the vines work hard, focusing their energies on ripening healthy, vibrant fruit, not excesses of vegetative growth or high quantities.
The 2015/16 growing season produced a mixed bag for the region. After a typical Margaret River start of some great conditions interspersed with localised Spring storms causing some reduction in fruit set, the vines got off to a great start. January yielded a couple of large rain events which is very unusual for Margaret River. There was great potential for disease but I was reassured with the growers and producers whom I have worked to establish a relationship with. Attention to the season and the vine brought about some fantastic fruit quality.
Of particular note for this growing season was the nigh on perfect weather conditions following the wetter than usual January. February and March were ideal for ripening – warm days, regular sea breezes taking the sting out of the heat and providing cool nights around 16C. My feeling back then was that it looks set to be an absolute CRACKER of a Cabernet year, and this has not changed.
All of the grapes for this wine were handpicked into small 8kg crates and immediately transported back to the winery where they were gently de-stemmed and not crushed, directly into their small fermentation vessels, a procedure which allowed the ferment to start with what were almost totally unburst, undamaged individual berries. The wines were fermented on skins utilising the indigenous yeasts, which arrived on the grape skins when the fruit arrived at the winery.
The must underwent a slow, steady ferment with hand plunging twice each day. After around 12 days the fruit was basket pressed into French oak barriques, with a small portion (22%) being new, and was left to complete malolactic fermentation in barrel utilising the activity of indigenous bacteria. The wine was left to mature for 21 months in barrel during which time it was racked via gravity one time and topped regularly.
One day before bottling the wine was racked out of barrel to tank using gravity (no pumps at all) and was then bottled unfined and unfiltered.
This wine looks set to not only continue the story of the 2015 Cabernet Merlot, but to take it on to greater heights. A restrained yet complex nose displaying a wonderful mix of cassis, black berry, currant, and plum, hints of spicey oak and a typically delicate Margaret River savoury dried kelp note. Medium to full bodied with plenty of acid to lift the palate and balance the autumn fruit bowl of dark and red berries and fruits. The youthful tannins are nutty, fine and dry and complete the well structured palate to perfection. This wine is already showing great depth and complexity in youth and I feel it has great potential to age and develop for at least 15 years.