Yesterday’s 2008 Dowie Doole Merlot was the first of what I hope will be three quite different expressions of this grape (the third is a Blue Poles wine from Margaret River). The second, this Unison wine, is from the Gimblett Gravels sub-region of Hawkes Bay in New Zealand. Imported into Australia by Eurocentric Wine.
A nose whose interest remains somewhat locked behind bars – it’s all there, though, you just need to look a bit harder for it. Mostly, this is just young; tight aromas of liver paté, rich potpourri, dried mixed peel and all manner of other things (including a wisp of nougat-like oak). The complexity here is quite impressive, though on initial pouring it really needs some swirling to draw out what’s on offer. As the evening wears on, the aroma is evolving a more fluid and generous expression.
The palate is also quite tight but blessed with an immediate gush of red berry fruit that creates good impact. On entry, tingly acidity that contributes both texture and sourness to this rush of fruit. Darker berries build towards the middle palate, as do flowers and spice and a medicinal note, quite dense and sombre in overall profile, though at the same time very detailed, indeed almost etched. Abundant tannins creep in at this point, drying the tongue and creating a good deal of textural interest. Although not an overwhelmingly full wine, its youth clearly evident, it nonetheless communicates a sense of plush richness that is quite seductive. A lift of lighter fruit on the after palate continues on and on through a lengthy finish.
This needs a couple of years in bottle, or a good spell in the decanter, to shed some of its structural aggressiveness. There’s real quality here, though; serious in intent without resorting to stylistic exaggeration.