On Friday, I was fortunate enough to spend time with Mark Gifford of Blue Poles Vineyard. Amongst the wines we tasted were his current 2007 Reserve Merlot
, and this 2008 wine, due for release in the near future. I wrote glowingly and, I think, correctly about the 2007, so it was fascinating to taste the two side by side. On Friday, I preferred the 2008 for its tautness and intellect, finding the 2007 soft-edged by comparison. The following evening, when I retasted both, the 2007 had zapped into focus, giving the 2008 a real run for its money. I still can’t decide which I like more. What’s clear is they are both exceptional wines, and in the uppermost echelons of Australian Merlot.
The aroma is heady, deeply fruited, dark and savoury-edged, with perfume-like basenotes of woody spice and spicy oak, tonka bean and juicy leaves. It’s both accessible and complex, at times almost overwhelmingly forthright but always remaining fundamentally elusive and unable to be easily dissected. There’s an element of the strip tease to this wine that is quite compelling.
Entry is dark, just hinting at a sort of plush decadence before showing controlled movement to the middle palate. Here, the full spectrum of this wine’s flavours and structural components becomes evident. Tobacco leaves; savoury berry fruits with just a hint of Merlot’s teddy bear side; abundant, sweet, textural tannins, like rough sandpaper; acidity that holds everything in its place and takes a moment to express its own flourish before whisking the whole bundle of flavours through a raspy, delicious after palate. What a mouthful. The finish is held somewhat in check right now due to all that structure, but is likely to gain greater extension and fullness once the wine has had time to relax.
One could be forgiven for thinking this is even better than the 2007.
Blue Poles Vineyard