Tag: Langton’s 2010 Classification of Australian Wine V

Aug 08 2011

Cellar Picks: Don’t Overlook Australian Merlot!

Posted on August 08, 2011 | By merrill@cellarit.com

The right bank Bordeaux appellations of Pomerol and St Emilion have built their reputations on merlot dominant wines. Pomerol’s Château Pétrus, for example, is regarded as the penultimate expression of merlot and is one of the world’s most expensive wines. (See Château Pétrus 1990: Is it worth the price?, Cellarit Wine Blog, 11 August 2011)

But what about Australian merlot? I don’t think too many people would have trouble naming Australia’s top shiraz, cabernet sauvignon or even pinot noir wines, but can you name our top merlots? In fact, not a single merlot dominant wine is represented in Langton’s 2010 Classification of Australian Wine V – widely regarded as the definitive list of Australia’s most collectible wines.

Australia has clearly demonstrated its mastery of other Bordeaux styles. Superb cabernet sauvignon blends from the Margaret River, such as the Moss Wood Cabernet Sauvignon for example, have outclassed the very finest competition from Bordeaux in blind tastings and competitions. (See Moss Wood Cabernet Sauvignon: A World Class Wine, Cellarit Wine Blog, 25 February 20111)

Typically in Australia merlot is blended with cabernet sauvignon, as the generous plummy fruit and soft tannins of merlot fill in cabernet sauvignon’s mid-palate and soften its harder tannins.

Eden Valley’s Irvine Wines stands out in the Australian wine landscape for its absolute commitment to making world class merlot. Its website documents years of research, careful planning and experimentation with the variety.

The real challenge for makers of fine merlot is to add complexity, depth and structure to the variety’s fleshy full fruit characters. For its flagship James Irvine Grand Merlot, Irvine Wines has experimented with various elements, such as ripeness levels, ferment temperatures, extended maturation on skins and oak selection, to create a wine that references the great wines of Pomerol and St Emilion … Read the rest

Jun 06 2011

The Macedon Ranges: Small in Quantity but Big in Quality!

Posted on June 06, 2011 | By merrill@cellarit.com

Some friends of ours recently gave us a bottle of the superb Bindi Pyrette Heathcote Shiraz 2009. According to James Halliday “only a skilled pinot maker [ie. Michael Dhillon] could induce Heathcote to provide such an elegant shiraz.” (James Halliday, Australian Wine Companion 2011)

Indeed! Along with Curly Flat, Bindi is one of the icons of Victoria’s Macedon Ranges, the coolest wine region on Australia’s mainland. These two wineries have established the Macedon Ranges as one of the best sources in the country for pinot noir and chardonnay. The intensely aromatic yet elegant Bindi Block 5 Pinot Noir is rated as “Outstanding” in Langton’s 2010 Classification of Australian Wine V, and the Curly Flat Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are both critically acclaimed, regularly featuring on the wine lists of Sydney’s and Melbourne’s very best restaurants.

The Macedon Ranges, the highest and coolest of the five wine regions surrounding Melbourne, is home to mountains and forests alternating with open, windswept slopes. It’s an unforgiving place where exact site selection is critical. The best sites are north facing to catch the last rays of autumn sunlight and are protected from the worst of the wind and the spring frosts. The well-draining, quartz riddled, grey sandy loam soil that overlays a clay base is ideal for varieties like chardonnay and pinot noir, which perform best when their roots are forced to dig deep to survive.  In most years moderate rainfall typically guarantees a long growing season but also naturally keep yields low. Consequently, most of the 40 or so vineyards in the region are small, family-run businesses.

Granite Hills and Hanging Rock Winery, two of the oldest wineries in the region, have also highlighted the region’s potential for sparkling wines. John Ellis, who founded Hanging Rock in 1982 with his … Read the rest