There are a few notable Merlots on the local scene but I’d struggle to articulate (based on admittedly limited experience) what a regional Aussie Merlot should taste like. Is that a bad thing? I’m not sure; it certainly makes for unexpected, though often bland, tasting experiences.
This one is sourced from various regions in South Australia and forms part of the Reserve range of Jacob’s Creek wines. There’s often some pretty good value in this range and the wines are just that bit more “serious” than the standard label. In terms of aroma, there’s a lot of oak; the sort of hard, toasty, cedary oak that tends to mask easy fruit flavour. It’s very glamorous but kind of confronting too. Varietally, I’m getting some blueberry fruit but a wider, more dominant range of brambly notes. So, quite an austere aroma profile, really.
In the mouth, quite a hard, oak-driven wine. Maybe I’m being cynical but this wine feels built to a formula that is less about fruit character (and sympathetic treatment) and all about positioning. Quite a firm, powerful attack that showers the tongue with lean (not unripe) flavour and some underlying sweet berry fruit. The middle palate reveals this wine’s essential tension: a thread of firm oak runs alongside plush, quite attractive berry fruit and a hint of green olive. The oak character is akin to nutmeg that you haven’t yet grated. The flavours are large scale and very generous, but the whole feels disjointed, somehow, and unharmonious. Ripe tannins create a lovely texture that carries the wine through a somewhat hollow finish. A bit hot, perhaps, the wine finishing as it starts, with an essentially sappy, angular note that seems mostly oak-derived.
I’m not getting what I need from this wine. It’s extremely well made, clean and flavourful. But, for me, it is pretentious; its style is essentially mismatched to the underlying character of its fruit. I drank this wine with an outrageously inappropriate meal (Japanese curry) that, ironcally, tamed some of the savoury characters and allowed a softer, more feminine side to emerge.