Hunter Valley Wine – Merlot

The movie “sideways” – released in 2004 contained an infamous scene where the lead character refused to drink Merlot. The character preferring Pinot Noir instead. Studies have been conducted that reveal a distinct decrease in the sales of Merlot in the United States following the release of this movie.

Even 14 years later, I find that so many people who come on my Hunter Valley Wine Tour tend to steer away from Merlot. Most state that whilst they have had some good drops of the wine, they do find it to be a little hit and miss, preferring instead to opt for blends and other varietals.

The Hunter Valley has produced some outstanding Merlot in its time. Whilst not renowned for the varietal, the Hunter can boast winning some major awards in its time. A recent example of this is Capercaillie Wines 2014, Merlot scoring 94.0 points to win the best Merlot at the Royal Sydney Wine show in 2016, with the nearest competitor some 3 points behind at 91.0 points.

I have a rule of thumb when selecting a Merlot. I find that the reason that they can appear a little “Hit and Miss” is due to the struggle to get the fruit ripe enough. An easy way to judge the ripeness of the fruit is to simply look at the alcohol level of the wine. As a basic indicator – the higher the alcohol level the riper the fruit. My basic rule of thumb is 14%. Below this I tend to find the wine a little cordial like. At around 14% they tend to taste big and “Jammie”.

There are some amazing Merlot examples on offer to try during the Wine D Road Tours wine tour of the Hunter Valley. One of my absolute favourites being the 2017 Merlot on offer at Tamburlaine Organic Wines. This wine comes in at 14.5% and picked up top gold at the Cowra Wine show with a score of 95 points.