Monday, June 8, 2009

Craggy Range Merlot

It is not easy to find very good Merlot, which is lush, profound and gripping, outside of Pomerol. Contenders in Australia, such as Yarra Yering or  Irvine, are very expensive and variable. However, we seem to have excellent Merlot in blends, even where it is dominant or very significant, such as in the Mt. Mary Quintet or Cullen's Diana Madeline.

Several years ago, when I visited Craggy Range, I was impressed by their Merlot efforts. I pulled out a couple of bottles this weekend to see what happens after a few years.

The first wine was a 2002 Craggy Range Seven Poplars Vineyard Merlot. The grapes come from Hawkes Bay, the warmest New Zealand wine region, and the vineyard itself is located in a particularly warm area. The wine tasted of Blueberry and Mulberry and was still very fresh. It certainly had some grip and depth. It is well structured with a fine balance of tannins and acidity. What I missed was a sweeter core and more volume in the wine. The finish was also somewhat non=descript.

The second wine was the 2001 Craggy Range Gimblett Gravels Merlot from the famous 'hot stones' district in Hawkes Bay. This wine is also well structured, but its fruit is lusher on the palate, yet it still has sufficient acidity for further cellaring.

These two Merlots were quite impressive. They are grown under the warmest conditions, and one feels it could have been a little warmer still. However, they are quite complete wines and better structured than most Australian examples.   

No comments: