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Downes Family Merlot 2020

Country: South Africa
Winery: Downes Family Vineyards
Varietal: Merlot
UPC Code: 858441006118
Tasting Notes:

If you lived in South Africa and were on the allocation list for Mount Bullet Merlot, then you would have yourself some pretty cool bragging rights. Referred to by members of the international sommelier community as South Africa’s “Baby Le Pin” it is made from old vines and no fewer than 5 different Merlot clones (3 Italian and 2 French). It is utterly world class. Merlot continues to get a bad rap (after the movie “Sideways”), but it’s important to remind consumers that the most expensive wines from Bordeaux are in fact from the right bank and are Merlot predominant. Merlot is indeed one of the great, Noble grape varietals and deserves to be taken very seriously. Considerable emphasis is placed on maximizing the different French and Italian merlot expressions in this vineyard. Basically what you’re dealing with here is the declassified barrels from the Mt Bullet project, at less than half the price, but way more than half the wine. Aromatics and flavors are on point and the wine is impeccably well balanced. A non-interventionist winemaking approach ensures silkiness and elegant structure. This is very classy stuff!

Winemaker Notes:

The challenges of growing good quality Merlot are real and require fastidious viticultural management in the vineyard. The uneven ripening of these vines often requires multiple pickings of the same vineyard blocks, in order to ensure consistent ripeness of all bunches, is often overlooked. These particular grapes are picked from a small 3 hectare vineyard. The vineyard is divided up into 5 different parcels each with its own respective clone and these are all picked at optimal ripeness, before being combined for a 5 way clonal co-ferment. The bunches are chilled to 37 degrees F, before being sorted on a conveyor and destemmed. Berries are then hand sorted, before cold maceration ensues, for 3 to 6 days at 46 degrees F. The 5 way clonal ferment is inoculated with a commercial yeast. Fermentation temperatures vary between 78–86 degrees F. After pressing, the wine is racked and left to complete its malolactic fermentation and maturation in old 4 to 5 year old French oak barriques for 9 months. Before bottling, the wine is coarsely filtered and fined with bentonite so it’s vegan friendly.