Moss Wood Newsletter Late Winter News Issue #92, August 2016

Moss Wood Ribbon Vale 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon
Moss Wood Ribbon Vale 2014 Merlot


Median Harvest Dates

2014 Ribbon Vale Merlot – 7th March, 2014
2014 Ribbon Vale Cabernet Franc – 4th March, 2014
2014 Ribbon Vale Cabernet Sauvignon – 24th March, 2014

Mean Harvest Ripeness

2014 Ribbon Vale Merlot – 12.9o Be
2014 Ribbon Vale Cabernet Franc – 12.4o Be
2014 Ribbon Vale Cabernet Sauvignon – 13.6o Be


2014 Ribbon Vale Merlot
– 6.01 t/ha
2014 Ribbon Vale Cabernet Franc
– 6.02 t/ha
2014 Ribbon Vale Cabernet Sauvignon
– 4.85 t/ha

Ripening Time from Flowering to Harvest

2014 Ribbon Vale Merlot
– 108 days
2014 Ribbon Vale Cabernet Franc
– 112 days
2014 Ribbon Vale Cabernet Sauvignon
– 118 days


One thing we can say for certain about calendar year 2013 - it wasn’t dry. By midnight on 31st December the rain gauge had recorded 1219mm, some 23% above average. To say the soil was at full capacity was an understatement and during the winter, some patches in the vineyard had become almost impassable.

Timing of rain is the key for us, and when flowering began in the beginning of November, things had eased and the Cabernet varieties commenced in excellent conditions. However, Mother Nature’s mood changed during the last 2 weeks, delivering more wet weather and leaving us with below average yields. Cabernet Sauvignon was down 31%, Cabernet Franc was down 22% and Merlot down 26%. Vines do not like rain on their flowers.

Beyond this, the summer was a delight, typified by consistent warmth without extreme heat. Cabernet Sauvignon had a positively glorious time of it, enjoying almost 1000 hours in its key temperature range of 18-28o C, when it needs around 850 to ripen fully. It did this with virtually no heat stress at all, receiving only 36 hours above 33o C. Indeed, the vineyard experienced only one day when the mercury hit 40o C and that for only 45 minutes.

The conditions were equally as good for Cabernet Franc and Merlot, if not better. Both need less heat for ripening than their big sister and so they luxuriated in abundant warmth. Similarly, the lack of extreme heat benefited them as well.

Add to this the fact that our shoot positioning, trimming and spray programs all worked a treat, so no disease or bird problems and you could say we had one of Margaret River’s very finest seasons.

With small crops and good weather, the vintage was on us fairly quickly. Cabernet Franc came off on 4th March, 10 days early; Merlot on 7th March, 10 days early; and Cabernet Sauvignon on 24th March, 4 days early.


Having got half the job done, we then set about shepherding our high quality fruit carefully and safely to the bottle, applying all the usual Moss Wood techniques. Each variety was hand picked and all the fruit was destemmed into small fermenters and pumped over 3 times per day for extraction. Fermentation was by selected yeast strains and temperatures were set to a maximum of 30o C. Time on skins was 12 days for Cabernet Franc, 15 days for Merlot and 16 days for Cabernet Sauvignon.

After pressing, each variety was racked to barrels, all 225 litre French oak. In December 2015 all batches were racked to stainless steel, tasted and the final blends assessed. The 2014 Ribbon Vale Cabernet Sauvignon looked best at 93% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Cabernet Franc and 2% Merlot. The 2014 Ribbon Vale Merlot was deemed best at 89% Merlot and 11% Cabernet Franc. These blends were made up then returned to barrel for further aging. For the record, the Merlot received a total of 26 months in oak and the Cabernet Sauvignon 25 months. The Cabernet Sauvignon also received 12% new wood.

In June 2016 both wines were racked to stainless steel and fining trials were carried out. The balance of both was excellent, so both were left unfined. They were then sterile filtered and bottled on 28th June, 2016.

Moss Wood Ribbon Vale 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon

RVCS 14 horiz


The colour is a very youthful brick red and the condition is bright. The wine gleams in the glass.

The immediate impression of the nose is one of liveliness and fragrance, combining black and red currant with roses, five spice and liqueur cherry. There is complexity as well with soft, toasty oak, and some of the classic Ribbon Vale tar, linseed and seaweed.

On the palate it shows the evolution of the vineyard, where once this wine was distinctly savoury now there are rich, almost sweet dark berry and cherry fruits and an almost confectionery jubey muskiness. The palate gives just a glimpse of Ribbon Vale’s past, with firm tannin and leather and tarry notes on the finish, but the overall impression is one of great balance and length.


While unquestionably a cellaring wine, it is rich enough to be enjoyed now with any sort of flavoursome, winter fare. However, it is wine for the long haul and we recommend it for a minimum 10 years cellaring. For those who have the space and patience, please keep it for 25 years.

Moss Wood Ribbon Vale 2014 Merlot

Merlot 14 horiz


The colour is bright, deep brick red.

On the nose there are delicate aromas of cherries, roses and blackberries and layers of complexity made up of spice, cedar and tar.

There follows a juicy, firm palate with bright dark fruit notes of cherry and blackberry, sitting over a well-balanced structure. The acidity is high and tannins are concentrated and firm but the texture is silky smooth and gives the wine good length.


It is certainly a drinkable young wine, with generous fruit characters but underneath sits the makings of a fine old wine. It will take at least 10 years aging for the bottle bouquet to play a major role and a further 10 years cellaring for it to reach full maturity. For those who enjoy drinking classic old wine, we recommend keeping it until 2034.


Location: 926 Metricup Road, Wilyabrup WA
Postal: PO Box 225, Cowaramup WA 6284
Phone: +61 8 9755 6266
Fax: +61 8 9755 6303

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