Introducing the 2017 Berrigan Wines Merlot from the exciting wine region of Mount Benson in South Australia.
This Merlot is a great example of Merlot when it’s bright and fresh, and we made this wine to show you how beautiful this grape variety can be when it’s grown in a cool climate and carefully made. Not every red wine shows better with heavy tannins, and often the subtle nuances found in Merlot can be lost with excess oak maturation, so we highly recommend enjoying this wine when its less than 8 yrs old.
“The 2017 vintage gave us Merlot of good colour with delicate tannins and beautiful floral and spicy, red fruit flavours, due to the long and cool, yet relatively sunny ripening season.”
“As a winemaker, when making red wines, time is your friend. Time softens red wine with little effort, and brings the mouth-feel into balance with its flavours, however, because I wanted to release this wine young, it needed a lot more concentration and blend trial work from myself to bring the beautiful young flavours, tannins and acidity into balance.” Dan Berrigan
Did you know that since the movie Sideways was released, the popularity of Merlot has plummeted both in the US and in Australia, yet the popularity (and price) of First Growth Bordeaux red wines (which contain varying proportions of Merlot) have skyrocketed?
Was the movie communicating what we all think, we’re not sure it was. Perhaps Merlot has lost popularity because it has been made the same way as Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon?
“As I Winemaker, I often feel the wines I produce are like my children. Merlot from Mt Benson and Robe would (for comparison) have a natural talent for ballet and music, so I’m not going to sign it up to play rugby or woodwork. It’s about encouraging the natural strengths of each grape variety and gently guiding the wine from the vineyard to the bottle so these natural strengths and characteristics of the grape variety are visible for you to see in the finished wine.”
“For me this vintage, it entailed picking the fruit when the flavours were at a maximum, not when the tannins or the sugars were. It involved gently de-stemming the fruit without crushing the grapes so that the seed tannins were not released into the wine. A short period of cold skin contact before inoculation was used to extract the delicate and fragile flavours and flavour-precursors from the Merlot skins, followed by a 7-day ferment to capture these flavours while encouraging further development of the wine’s complexity from the ferment. Malolactic fermentation was completed alongside primary fermentation (yeast fermentation) for a quicker, cleaner and more efficient finish.”
“After 7 days fermented on skins, the Merlot was gently pressed off and only the best portions were kept. Malo-lactic fermentation was further encouraged through warming to finish within 2 weeks after pressing so that I could capture the nuances in the wine as soon as possible. Only 20% new French oak (ultra-fine grain) was used, as I wish to highlight the beauty in this wine and show you how great Merlot can be when pure.” Dan Berrigan