Moss Wood Ribbon Vale Vineyard 2002 Merlot
The Moss Wood 2002 Ribbon Vale Vineyard Merlot is fragrant, has ripe plummy flavour with cassis and licorice notes and supple, fine tannins on a moderately firm finish. It is tightly structured, yet is rich and powerful, with a fleshy texture.
Keith sees the Ribbon Vale Vineyard Merlot as having red berry fruit flavours – redcurrant and mulberry with blackberry jubes and some toffee apple, confectionary notes. He also sees hints of Grenadine / preserved oranges / orange zest in the wine. Firm acid and ripe tannins give the Merlot length and a pleasing grip.
Sydney International Wine Competition 2005 – Blue-Gold Our entry was judged by an international panel of thirteen judges during the week ending 15th October 2004, along with approximately 2,000 other wines representing 478 brands from thirteen countries – Australia, Argentina, Australia, Chile, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, New Zealand, Portugal, Spain, South Africa and USA.
The wine was awarded a BLUE-GOLD which indicates that the entry, when judged alongside appropriate food, was pointed into approximately the top 10% of the 2005 Total Entry.
There is a paradox involved in the 2002 reds from Moss Wood’s Ribbon Vale vineyard. Although the mild 2002 vintage was not a great one for Margaret River reds, it did produce better red wines at Ribbon Vale than those which came from the, widely accepted as outstanding, 2001 vintage.
This is the third year that Moss Wood has harvested Ribbon Vale fruit (following the purchase of the vineyard in early 2000). For the two years leading up to the 2002 vintage, the Moss Wood team has had responsibility for the Ribbon Vale vineyard and they have learnt a great deal about managing this particular site. Trellising has been the key to improving the ripeness of the tannins in the Ribbon Vale reds and to finding better tannin balance. Merlot tends to overcrop easily and so identifying appropriate yields and making sure that these are not exceeded has been important in ensuring that the reds do not lack concentration.
The other key to improving the Ribbon Vale reds has been the knowledge gained in the winery about how to minimise the extraction of aggressive tannins. The fermentation process takes place in closed tanks, where it is usual (and easier) to pump over to extract colour and flavour including tannin. Most of the extraction occurs using the much gentler (but more demanding of time and labour) hand plunging.
Merlot is frequently talked about as the component of the blend which softens cabernet sauvignon. What is less clearly understood in Keith’s view is that tannin plays a big part in the impact of the merlot grape. The team at Moss Wood are looking to produce merlot with fine, ripe tannins rather than tannins which are too extractive and too grippy.
The team at Moss Wood make a single merlot from Ribbon Vale vineyard fruit which is released as a varietal as well as contributing to the cabernet blend. The merlot from the Ribbon Vale vineyard is fermented separately from the cabernet sauvignon and the cabernet franc. After pressing, it is matured in oak for nine months and is racked into tank. The amount required to flesh out the Cabernet Merlot is drawn off (about 30% of the blend) while the remaining merlot is racked back into barrels for another year’s ageing, after which it is bottled as a varietal.
Seventy per cent of the wine was bottled under screw caps.
The cellaring potential for this wine should be approximately seven to ten years.