Red Wine


Merlot is one of the 5 permissible varieties in Red Bordeaux, making what is called the Bordeaux blend.

They vary considerably in their flavours, tannin profiles, and, most significantly the order in which they ripen. As a generalisation, the Left Bank, including the Medoc and Pessac-Léognan / Graves tend to use Cabernet as their backbone. The right bank, including, Pomerol and Saint-Émilion, Merlot as there backbone.

As with all varieties, the below commentary is a generalisation. Merlot will express differently around the world, in individual vineyards, and, depending on the vignerons’ and winemakers’ handling.


The backbone of the cooler right bank wine, the earlier ripening Merlot, has softer, more supple tannins, less overt fruit characters than Cabernet Sauvignon, showing more restraint. Again, it benefits from extended post-fermentation maceration.

The big names like Pétrus and Trotanoy make stunning wines.

Move to warm climates in Australia, Italy (most famously Tuscany), and, America and it is a different beast altogether.

Tasting of a couple of dozen Merlots from around the world a few decades ago revealed an incredible diversity of style from supple and silky to bold inky and structured.

Interviewing Luca di Napoli from Castello dei Rampolla we explored how much it easier it was for him to ripen the Bordeaux varieties in Tuscany, and, just how different the tannins and flavours were.

The biggest name in Merlot in Italy is, undoubtedly, Masseto!

In Australia, large plantings of Merlot were actually incorrectly identified Cabernet Franc!


Masseto Reviews

100 points James Suckling

This is so solid and powerful with incredible vertical dense that goes down and down on the palate. Compacted and thick with caressing and polished tannins that are powerful yet refined. Super concentration yet agile and energetic. This is a wine that needs time to come together and resolve all of its amazing components. Reminds me of the legendary 2001. Try after 2023. (6/2019)

100 points Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate

Masseto has pulled off back-to-back home runs. This is the first time that an Italian wine has earned 100 points in successive vintages. The 2016 Masseto is a thunderstorm of emotions, but it manages to keep them under perfect control. Like the 2015 Masseto before it, this vintage is a seamless wine of the highest pedigree. It represents an encore performance, continuing the string of successes that is bringing Italy to the forefront of the wine world. The first thing you’ll notice is the thickness and concentration of the fruit that makes an immediate impact on all the senses, in terms of appearance, aroma and mouthfeel. There is no overstating the sheer power and richness of this iconic vintage of Italy’s groundbreaking Merlot. Despite that considerable mass, this Masseto remains delicate and graceful. You gain better perspective as the wine opens in the glass and reveals deeper layers that were not immediately apparent on first nose: dark fruit, spice, sweet tobacco and black cherry. There is great tightness and laser focus to the fruit. I tasted the 2016 and 2015 vintages together for comparison when I scored this wine, and then I tasted this 2016 edition alone about a month later to confirm my impressions. These vintages are identical twins, two perfect wines. ML (4/2019)

97 points Wine Spectator

A flashy style, featuring concentrated yet fluid flavors of blackberry, plum, violet, cedar and iron, wrapped in toasty, vanilla-scented oak. The acidity is vibrant and refined, but dense tannins provide support as this cruises to a long finish. Best from 2022 through 2045. BS (9/2019)

94-97 points Vinous (Barrel Sample)

The 2016 Masseto is finishing its aging in barrel. Dark, sumptuous and super-expressive, the 2016 has so much to offer. Expressive aromatics, silky tannins and layered of dark, resonant fruit are some of the signatures. All the elements simply fall into place in a Masseto endowed with terrific balance and class. AG (3/2019)

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Refined Perfumed Goodness!

TeMata Estate Awatea Cabernet Merlot 2018

The Awatea is a fantastic introduction to the Te Mata Estate wines. You get the supreme craftsmanship of a family owned winery with over a century of experience making wines in this region, some of the best fruit in NZ and so much history. Little sister to the Coleraine, this also a Bordeaux blend - the 2018 is made up of 48% cabernet sauvignon, 37% merlot, 15% cabernet franc. The wine gives ripe blackberry and blackcurrant aromatics with elements of vanilla creme and sandalwood. On the palat
$45ea in any 3+
$43ea in any 6+

Castello dei Rampolla Chianti Classico 2018

Is it traditional Chianti Classico? No. Is it bloody good? YES!! A cooler year than 2016 delivery a refined personality.
$64ea in any 3+
$61ea in any 6+

Castello dei Rampolla Chianti Classico 2019

Is it traditional Chianti Classico? No. Is it bloody good? YES!!
$64ea in any 3+
$61ea in any 6+

Tenuta di Trinoro ‘Le Cupole’ Rosso Toscano 2019

The term "Rosso Toscano" usually indicates an inexpensive wine made for everyday drinking. But in this case, the wine is essentially a Super Tuscan, made from a blend of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petit Verdot. Not a drop of Sangiovese, but it's unmistakably Tuscan — intense and concentrated, with a seductive tonal palate and enough body and tannic grip to age and evolve. The second label of Tenuta di Trinoro, Le Cupole was first produced in 1995. It is a blend of Cabern
$67ea in any 3+
$64ea in any 6+

Te Mata Estate Coleraine 2019

Perfumed Refined Goodness!
$107ea in any 3+
$102ea in any 6+

Brancaia Il Blu 2016

Brancaia's Il Blu is gorgeous in 2016. Fresh, perfumed and beautifully lifted, the 2016 strikes a captivating balance between power and finesse. Red cherry, flowers, mint, cinnamon and blood orange all give the 2016 brightness and vitality, and yet there is plenty of the richness readers have come to expect from this wine as well. The 2016 is one of the more polished, nuanced vintages of Brancaia I can remember tasting. Antonio Galloni
$153ea in any 3+
$146ea in any 6+

San Leonardo 2015

A Super Tuscan made 100km's away from Tuscany!
$199ea in any 3+
$189ea in any 6+

San Leonardo 2016

Filled with personality this is an exceptional Bordeaux blend from Trentino.
$237ea in any 3+
$227ea in any 6+

Tua Rita Guisto di Notri 2019

In a sense, this wine is like the Bosco dei Sugheri but with the addition of one more grape variety in the blend. The Tua Rita 2019 Giusto di Notri is 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Cabernet Franc and 8% Merlot. I tasted the wine shortly after it had been bottled. With 40,000 bottles made, it should start hitting the market now. The Giusto di Notri offers lots of dark primary fruit with important structure and texture in this classic vintage. Blackberry and black plum cede to spice, tar and campfir
$240ea in any 3+
$230ea in any 6+

Tua Rita Redigaffi Toscana IGT 2019

I am a big fan of the 2019 vintage and, in most cases, prefer it to the 2018 vintage that is often harder to read (with alternating spells of cool and heat). But in the case of this wine, I like both vintages about the same for different reasons. The 2019 Redigaffi feels elegant and less hearty compared to its previous edition. This important Merlot-based wine delivers an immediate quality of fruit, with pretty freshness that renders a very lively and vivid mouthfeel. This is a sharp and well-de
$835ea in any 3+
$820ea in any 6+

Château Mouton-Rothschild 1er Cru Classe 1982

In pushing the boundaries making Yarra Yerings Dry Red No.1 it was essential that we explored great Bordeaux. Mouton was regularly on the list. Now we have the chance to see just how well those bold 1982's with there insane scores have aged and if the critics got it right! The question? Which of the 1982 1st Growths will reign supreme? Margaux? Latour? Mouton-Rothschild? Cabernet Sauvignon 85% Cabernet Franc 8% Merlot 7%