Continuing the story for this wine to provide a bit of a guilty pleasure for you. Wonderful mixes of florals, fruit and spice but with a generous, soft structure and low tannins, this wine was made for enjoyment.
The Merlot portion of the blend is from a very special 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 14 days the fruit was basket pressed into 3 year old French oak barriques 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. Two days before bottling the wine was racked out of barrel to tank using gravity (no pumps at all) and was then bottled unfined and unfiltered.
Purple florals and spice from the Petit Verdot great you immediately on the nose and rise up out of the glass followed closely by the meaty, ripe, red fruits of the old vine Merlot. Medium to full bodied, round and soft, with a richness that is tempered by the high acidity. This wine drinks incredibly easily, with no rough edges, but it will develop and reward cellar for the medium term (5-10 yrs at least)