Moss Wood Ribbon Vale 2019 Merlot

Wine Facts
Median Harvest DateMerlot – 21st April, 2019
Cabernet Franc – 10th, April 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

Wine Facts

  • Median Harvest Date

    Merlot - 21st April, 2019

    Cabernet Franc - 10th April, 2019

  • Harvest Ripeness

    Merlot - 13.00°Be 

    Cabernet Franc - 12.80°Be

  • Yield

    Merlot - 6.22 t/ha

    Cabernet Franc - 5.27 t/ha

  • Days Elapsed between Flowering and Harvest

    Merlot - 131 days

    Cabernet Franc - 132 days

  • Bottled

    9th August, 2021

  • Released

    29th October, 2021

  • Alcohol


Moss Wood Ribbon Vale 2019 Merlot – Cameron Douglas,

Smoky, toasty, dark fruited and inviting with aromas of ripe dark plums and blue fruits, baking spice and clove spices from barrel. Dry, youthful, balanced, fruity and fresh on the palate. Frim tannins and acid line contrast a core of fruit and flavours that mirror the bouquet. Balanced, refreshing, salivating and ready to drink from…

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Moss Wood Ribbon Vale 2019 Merlot – Ray Jordan, Best Merlot of the year 2023

This vineyard has been a program of steady improvement which has had an impact in lifting the quality of all varieties. But none more so than with merlot which is now established as WA’s best. November, 2022

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Moss Wood Ribbon Vale 2019 Merlot – Ray Jordan, WA Wine Review 2023

Merlot in the last few years has become something special from this vineyard. This one doesn’t have the opulence of the plush 2018, but instead there is a deep earthy dark fruit complexity layered across the palate. Like most ’19s it has taken an extra year to knit together and allow its fruit to reveal…

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Moss Wood Ribbon Vale 2019 Merlot – Edward Agg, The Cellar Post

Merlot is such an underrated variety. Just saying Moss Wood Ribbon Vale Merlot 2019. Nose – Bright, deep and dark, blackberry, plum, twiggy herbs, lavender et al with a mineral edge, graphite? (Is that even a smell?), pencils perhaps. It has a very adult vibe. None of the nonchalant ‘look at me I’m fruity’ stuff.…

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Moss Wood Ribbon Vale 2019 Merlot – James Suckling,

Lots of velvet texture to this, with a medium body, chocolate, berry, and white pepper. Medium-bodied with a tight texture and delicious finish. Shows subtle merlot character and an attractive mouthfeel. Drink now. Screw cap. October, 2022

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Moss Wood Ribbon Vale 2019 Merlot – WAGFG Wine of the Year Award 2022

Dark choc, smooth and berried, lush and soft. Mellow and flowing style with some grippy malt elements. Well balanced, cool and fresh style with good energy. Mellow. An excellent expression that made the top 50 and close for the top 25. September 2022

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Moss Wood Ribbon Vale 2019 Merlot – Andrew Caillard, Wine – The Vintage Journal

Medium deep crimson. Attractive musky dark plum aromas with hazelnut, praline notes. Generous, minerally and vigorous with saturated dark plum, mulberry, hazelnut, vanilla flavours, fine chalky al dente textures and long fresh integrated mineral acidity. Not powerful but graceful with lovely fruit complexity and vinosity. A cedary/ chalky tannin plume at the finish with seductive…

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Moss Wood Ribbon Vale 2019 Merlot – Gary Walsh, The Wine Front

Olive leaf, cedar, mint, nutty with black and red fruit. It’s savoury, quite leafy, with a slight honey flavour in with the mixed berry fruit, light grainy tannin, a bit of oak bobbing up, and an olive laced finish of solid length. A more savoury expression of Merlot, perhaps a bit lacking in mid-palate and…

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Moss Wood Ribbon Vale 2019 Merlot – Erin Larkin,

This is supple and lithe; layers of raspberry and cocoa, licorice and clove. In the mouth there is saltbush and bay leaf, and it’s beautiful. The structure is fine, it doesn’t have that slippery, formless shape that can so afflict merlot from Margaret River. Nay – this is Château Lafleur-like in its subtle framework and…

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Moss Wood Ribbon Vale 2019 Merlot – James Halliday, The Weekend Australian Magazine

A beguiling bouquet, its aroma glittering so rapidly it’s hard to keep up with them. Better to allow the wine to have its head and leave you to revel in the gloriously supple array of red and black fruits, the tannins translucent. 13.5% alc, screwcap 96 points, drink to 2043 Printed on The Weekend Australian…

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Moss Wood 2020 Ribbon Vale Elsa, Moss Wood 2019 Ribbon Vale Merlot, Moss Wood 2019 Ribbon Vale Cabernet Sauvignon – James Halliday wine review, The Weekend Australian Magazine

It was love at first sight when I travelled to Margaret River 40 years ago to research the region for a book published by University of Queensland Press. Elements of its unique landscape-giant marri, karri and blackbutt gums, ancient grass trees, wildflowers of every kind that change with the season, and small streams that find…

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Moss Wood Ribbon Vale 2019 Merlot – Gabrielle Poy, TheRealReview

A heady delight of smoked-meats, cigar-box spice and red plums leads into a suave and intense core. The tannins are fine and talcy, a standout feature that guides the flavours along. With air, the wine grows and flavours of rosehip and graphite appear on the fleshy core. This is very primary and shows a lot…

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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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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.


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.


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.


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.