JH 94 points (2006), JH 91 points (2009), Silver Medal – 2013 International Wine Challenge (2009)
The intriguing plummy depths, full complete racy flavours; balancing tannins and premium oak interaction, with overall complexity and satisfaction of style is how the Irvine ‘Grand Merlot’ is perceived.
The Grand Merlot comes only after many years planning. In order to establish our style, Merlot wines from all over the world, both unblended and partially blended were researched and tasted. We then made our own Merlots over many years. Wines and articles came from across the globe to see if there was a consensus of style. Thankfully there doesn’t seem to be such a thing, so we were able to choose those alternatives that best suited our ability and our vineyard.
Our decision to plant Merlot at Springhill Eden Valley was easy and always intended.
Our Grand Merlot shows all the characters we were after, representing a very high level refinement of style and individuality. Further comparisons of analysis of Merlot from overseas and Australia plus intuitive drawings from James’ winemaking knowledge since 1954 have brought about a number of changes to our Grand Merlot over the years.
The changes have resulted in a more complex wine than usual with tobacco/leather overtones above the plummy bouquet with plenty of vinous herbaceous complexities complemented by the judicious use of new oak and older casks.
Maturation in new and seasoned Allier oak takes place for up to two years and gives the desired notes to the finish while retaining the nose and spiciness of the oak.
This gentle and concise use of oak allows the fruit to show even more plum and cherry characters while a firmness of palate will serve the wine well as it ages, giving back-bone to draw on. The whole flavour is so lively and complex that palate interest is maximised and so very rewarding.
Deeper tannins have added to the palate, firming the end but still leaving the plum fruitiness in mid-palate. There is a light pepperiness which adds to the overall kaleidoscope of the bouquet. The grandness in all this mostly refers to the completeness of the wine and its ability to express itself in a totally prestigious way.
Refinements in the winemaking which in themselves are well known, plus one or two that are particular to Irvine Grand Merlot results in our very special differences which no other Merlot can emulate. The finish is so clean and so distinctively Merlot that we are proud to be makers of such a wine.
With many vintages behind us, years of research, minor modifications to our winemaking each year, maximising the flavour reward, creation of a distinctive style, along with being honoured with title of World’s Best Merlot at the Swiss World Merlot Tasting, we believe we now have one of the finest Merlot wines in the world.
As is critical with Merlot, our vineyard site is very well drained because of the substrata of gravel. Our trellis is based on the two wire vertical system and part machine harvested with the rest hand harvested. The sites chosen face east/west and north to catch the warm sun late in the season when the days are very short and we wait for the Baume to reach 14.5º or better. Our grape picking takes place around midday to avoid any possibility of morning dew pick-up, ensuring that our crushed grapes are warm to start the ferment.
The winemaking is carefully supervised in all stages, being made to exact personal standards and to our own Irvine criteria.
It takes a very different understanding of wine and its maturation to have a wine ready at six to ten years of age rather than at two to three years.
Grand Merlot will retain a release age of four plus years, with a minimum of 20-26 months in oak and a year or so in bottle.
Over the years we have changed one item per year to see if we can improve the totality of the Grand Merlot in its global style.
While taking notice of the traditional winemaking of Pomerol and St Emilion in particular, there has been no attempt to make our style anything other than an Eden Valley deluxe premium Merlot.
From a serving view we see the elegance, fruit, and soft dry finish matching many varied styles of cuisine from entrée to dessert.
Upon drinking our new release, we recommend that our Grand Merlot is decanted three hours before enjoying, allowing the wine to unfold gently to its intended best.