Moss Wood Ribbon Vale 2019 Merlot

Wine Facts
Median Harvest DateMerlot – 21/04/2019
Cabernet Franc – 10/04/2019
Mean Harvest RipenessMerlot – 13.0⁰ Be
Cabernet Franc – 12.8⁰ Be
YieldMerlot – 6.22 t/ha
Cabernet Franc – 5.27 t/ha
Ripening Time from Flowering to HarvestMerlot – 131 days
Cabernet Franc – 132 days
Bottled9th August, 2021
Released29th October, 2021
Alcohol13.5%
Wine Facts
Median Harvest DateMerlot – 21/04/2019
Cabernet Franc – 10/04/2019
Mean Harvest RipenessMerlot – 13.0⁰ Be
Cabernet Franc – 12.8⁰ Be
YieldMerlot – 6.22 t/ha
Cabernet Franc – 5.27 t/ha
Ripening Time from Flowering to HarvestMerlot – 131 days
Cabernet Franc – 132 days
Bottled9th August, 2021
Released29th October, 2021
Alcohol13.5%

Moss Wood Ribbon Vale 2019 Merlot – Fergal Gleeson, Greatwineblog

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before…but Merlot makes some of the best wine in the world! Most Australian wine drinkers would be shocked that Merlot can make wine as powerful, long lived and complex as top notch Cabernet, Pinot Noir or Shiraz. Few Australian wine producers have tried to emulate those wines from…

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Moss Wood Ribbon Vale 2019 Merlot – Ken Gargett, Wine Pilot

Merlot may not have the overwhelming popularity it did some years ago but it still has many fans. This one was handpicked into small, open fermenters, hand-plunged three times a day before ten days on skins. Then to closed fermenters and pumped over thrice daily. Multiple yeasts were used before racking to French oak barriques…

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Moss Wood Ribbon Vale 2019 Merlot-Angus Hughson, Wine-Pilot

Moss Wood’s Ribbon Vale Merlot is making a name for itself as one of the country’s finest for this varietal in a good season, although the wines are always strongly varietal examples. The 2019 edition is a lightly framed and pretty style of Margaret River Merlot boasting fruit pastille , fruits of the forest and…

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Moss Wood Ribbon Vale 2019 Merlot – Bob Campbell, The Real Review

Bright, vibrant merlot with Black Doris plum, red berry, tamarillo and pomegranate supported by assertive acidity and fine, ripe tannins. Good cellaring potential. Benefits from aeration.   Published December 2021

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Moss Wood Ribbon Vale 2018 Merlot – Ray Jordan, The West Australian Wine Guide 2022

A vintage that produced some spellbinding wines, and this is right up there with some of the best. This is high-class merlot displaying power and poise. The structure and combination of oak, fruit and tannin is excellent. Leafy fruit with a trace of black fruits and dark plum. The palate has a grainy texture accentuated…

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Moss Wood Ribbon Vale 2018 Merlot – Ray Jordan – Lucky Sip One of His 2021 Top 10 Wines

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Moss Wood Ribbon Vale 2018 Merlot – Mike Bennie, WAGFG Wine Awards 2021 – TOP 25!

WAGFG Awards, 2021 – Brilliant red shining a light on merlot outside monochromatic, plush, plummy styles. Sappy cassis, tomato leaf, raspberry and bay leaf all in play. And though it has medium weight, it feels ultra-savoury, and is cinched with fine, lacy tannins instead of losing form and softening. An old-school feel? Perhaps. And done…

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Moss Wood Ribbon Vale 2018 Merlot – Fergal Gleeson, Great Wine Blog

Moss Wood makes a serious Merlot. One of Australia’s best in fact. Merlot in this country is usually the minor party in a Cabernet blend or if a single varietal it’s usually a ‘Tale of Yellowtail’ (a mass produced red aimed at novice drinkers). The Moss Wood Ribbon Vale Merlot 2018 continues their fine run.…

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Moss Wood Ribbon Vale 2018 Merlot – James Suckling, jamessuckling.com

This fresh, mid-weight merlot has good purity, with red plum and mulberry aromas and flavors. The crisp tannins are precisely cut and deliver vibrant res-plum flavours. Give this a year or two. Try from 2024. Screwcap.  

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Moss Wood Ribbon Vale 2018 Merlot – Ray Jordan, The Weekend West Australian

Ray Jordan talks about Moss Wood Ribbon Vale 2018 Merlot in the West Australian: “Master of Merlot Moss Wood’s Keith Mugford is a tough taskmaster. In fact, he is usually toughest on himself and the wines made under his watch. Talk about doing the one-percenters — Mugford does the 0.001 percenters in the quest for…

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Moss Wood Ribbon Vale 2018 Merlot – Ray Jordan, Wine Pilot

A vintage that produced some spellbinding wines and this is right up there with some of the best. This is high class merlot displaying power and poise. The structure and combination of oak fruit and tannin is excellent. Leafy merlot with a trace of black fruits and dark plum. The palate has a grainy texture…

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Moss Wood Ribbon Vale 2018 Merlot – Marc Malouf, Wine Worth Writing About

Jewel like deep crimson and a punchy, charred and savoury nose of zingy red berries, blackberry, cherry, plum, dried cranberry, dried olive, chocolate, fresh leather, sweet tobacco and cedar. Potpourri and rose decorates, along with mace, dried bay, mint and orange rind. Quite rustic. In the mouth it has an initial grip of firm, but…

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Moss Wood Ribbon Vale 2018 Merlot – Edward Agg, Wine Searcher

Moss Wood Merlot 2018, good vintage for Margaret River by all accounts and evidenced on this showing. Rich and concentrated red and black fruits on the nose, dark cherry and raspberry, tobacco-like spice and coffee notes too balance the fruit nicely. Medium+ on the palate, great weight and texture here, with a core of red…

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Moss Wood Ribbon Vale 2018 Merlot – Gary Walsh, The Wine Front

There’s 5% Cabernet Franc in the mix, and a modest 15% new oak. New labels too, which are what you might call Margaret meets Bordeaux in style. I like them, as an aside. Well, this is a good expression of Merlot, to be sure. Red and black fruits, coffee bean, a sort of honey/floral perfume,…

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Moss Wood Ribbon Vale 2017 Merlot – James Halliday, Wine Companion

Full of nervous energy, its plummy fruit on one side and earthy, herbal acidity and freshness on the other. This will be ready when you are.   Published August 1st, 2020

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Vintage Conditions

We hope readers enjoy our reports about seasonal conditions and how these impacted our winemaking lives.  An important part of the fun in making and drinking wine is that every vintage is different and carries with it the stamp of the often-small weather variations that prevailed.  The results are the nuanced but perceivable changes in the style of wine we made.

Our most interesting stories typically come from complicated years.  The more Mother Nature throws out the challenges, the harder we have to work to achieve the high quality upon which we pride ourselves.  As we progressed through the 2018/19 season, it became clear she was definitely in one of those moods.

Mild and wet, was the theme of the spring.  Calendar year 2018 was above average for rainfall and it kept coming right till the end of the year.  The Cabernet varieties all flowered late, around 20th November and were accompanied by 9 days of rain, delivering a total of 53mm, not to mention 10 days when the temperature dropped below 8°C.  Flowering was at least a week late across all varieties and it’s no surprise that yields were variable. Good old Cabernet Sauvignon coped well and was actually up ever so slightly, by 2%, at 7.10 tonnes per hectare but the brothers-in-arms, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Malbec were all below average to varying degrees.  Cabernet Franc was the worst offender, down 34%, at 5.27 tonnes per hectare.

We kept our part of the bargain by keeping fungicide treatments on track and so the vineyard was free of disease.  When the leaves are green and healthy, the vines are able to maintain good ripening, something quite crucial when the temperatures are a bit low, giving them the best chance to achieve good flavours.

Our other important step we can take is to make sure our foliage management is timely.  When the shoots are properly positioned, standing vertically, with all the leaves and bunches exposed to the sun, we maximise the ripening potential and minimise the disease risk.  In the sporting parlance, the 1%ers can really make a difference and attention to detail is critical.

As the season progressed all this became more and more important as Mother Nature gifted us on-going mild temperatures and several good dollops of rain. With the vineyard in good shape, disease wasn’t a risk but ripening was slow.

As dry land farmers, we have something of love/hate relationship with rain.  We love to have it anytime but it’s a mixed blessing late in the season.  As we progress into autumn, we get a bit edgy.  Falling temperatures reduce the progress of the Cabernet varieties and rain slows things even further.  By mid-April things can reach the point in cool years when ripening all but stops.

The other issue is the birds get very hungry at that time of year and although the crop is protected by nets, we have to check continually for holes.  The silvereyes, in particular, will find the smallest opening to stream through and get stuck into the fruit.  Nothing is more frustrating than watching the birds help themselves to almost-ripe grapes.

 

 

 

With all of the above in mind, it was a relief when Ribbon Vale closed in on full ripeness.  On 10th April, we got under way with Cabernet Franc and Malbec, soon followed by Merlot.  We were still waiting on Cabernet Sauvignon, anxiously following the many weather forecasts available these days and decided on Good Friday morning that Easter Saturday was the big day.  We were experiencing some showers but they were likely to be easing by the afternoon, so we agreed to take the nets off late in the day.  What happened next will remain one of those magic moments we’ll remember forever.

As the vineyard crew left Moss Wood, which luckily was all finished by this stage, to take off the aforementioned nets, an almighty storm passed over the top of the winery, leaving hail piled up against the south side of all the buildings.  Very exciting indeed!  As can happen with these things, it was a strip about 1 kilometre wide, passing roughly straight over the top of Moss Wood, with Ribbon Vale on the very southern edge, so fortunately it missed the worst.  Also, believe it or not, we also need to thank the birds because their pressure meant we’d left the nets on until the very last minute and these prevented the hail from damaging the fruit.  Sometimes you get lucky!

Production Notes

As always, the fruit for the Ribbon Vale reds was hand-picked and delivered to the winery where it was destemmed and sorted.  Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Malbec were all put into small, open fermenters, for hand plunging 3 times per day. Merlot went into closed fermenters and was pumped over 3 times per day.

All batches were seeded with multiple yeast strains for primary fermentation and temperatures were controlled to a maximum of 30°C.  Time on skins was 10 days for Malbec, 16 days for Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot and 17 days for Cabernet Franc.

After pressing all batches underwent malolactic fermentation in stainless steel and were then racked to barrel.  All casks were French oak barriques, and in the Cabernet Sauvignon 26% were new and in the Merlot, 14%.

On 16th November 2020, the final blends for both wines were made up.  The 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon is 91% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 3% each of Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Malbec.  The 2019 Merlot is 93% Merlot and 7% Cabernet Franc.  The finished wines were then returned to barrel.

In early August 2021, after 28 months in wood, both wines were racked to stainless steel and fining trials were carried out to assess tannin balance.  No finings were necessary and so both were sterile filtered and bottled on 9th August.

Tasting Notes

Colour and condition

Deep brick red hue; bright condition.

Nose

Merlot is lauded for its dark fruit notes and the 2019 has this in spadefuls.  Lifted cherry, blackberry and blackcurrant fruit aromas dominate and underneath there are just the first hints of leather and tar.

Palate

The same theme follows on the palate, with intense blackberry and cherry notes in the mid palate, sitting over a firm but balanced structure.  It captures the theme of 2019, with lively acid and firm tannin and on the finish the oak is toasty, with some old-fashioned pencil shavings.

Cellaring

This is certainly a wine for the cellar and it will repay long term patience.  The generous fruit characters of the 2019 vintage mean it is an easy-to-drink youngster but 15 years in the cellar should see the tannin begin to soften and for the tar and leather notes to add complexity to both the nose and palate.  Full maturity should be reached around 25 years of age.