Downes Family Merlot 2012
The 2012 Downes Family Merlot possesses some very interesting aromatics. Smoky black plums and dark cherries are nuanced with a background of licorice, cocoa powder, earth and a light touch herbs. Medium fuller bodied, this has a sleek textural feel, with ripe, well integrated tannins and a nice backbone of acidity that brings a juiciness that keeps the dark cherry and plum fruit fresh and vibrant. The finish is dry with the juicy red fruit flavors cut with a slight herbal edge with the dusty tannins giving a powdery impression. Just now starting to show glimpses of what it has to offer this should evolve nicely over the next 3-4 years.
88 pts Stephen Tanzer/Vinous June 2015 2012 Downes Family Vineyards Merlot Bright, medium ruby-red. Blackberry, woodsmoke, tar and truffle on the slightly raw, peppery nose. Ripe, moderately sweet and easygoing, showing good vinosity to the flavors of cranberry, redcurrant, tobacco leaf, woodsmoke, mocha and herbs. More soil-driven than fruity. Finishes slightly dry-edged. I’d like to have seen more verve and primary fruit. — Stephen Tanzer
The grapes are picked from a small 3 hectare vineyard. The vineyard is divided up into 5 different parcels each with its own respective clone. The soil, trellising and canopy management is constant through out the vineyard so it is the actual clonal characteristics that determine the different dates of harvest. Over the years we have learnt that there is as much as 11 – 14 days difference between picking the first clone to picking the last clone. The bunches are chilled to 3ºC before being sorted on a conveyor and destemmed. Berries are then hand sorted, before cold maceration ensues for 3 to 6 days at 8ºC. We try to naturally ferment 100% of the different parcels of grapes making up the Mount Bullet. Fermentation temperatures vary between 26 – 30ºC. After pressing, the wine is racked and left to complete its malolactic fermentation and maturation in oak barriques.