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2003 Clarendon Hills Brookman Vineyard Merlot
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- Cellar 10 - 12 years (2014-2016)
- ABV 14.8%
- Closure: Cork
This is the only Merlot to be produced in 2003. The Brookman vineyard has consistently produced the best Merlot. The vines are planted around 28 years old and yield 2 ½ tonnes per acre, being grown on clay soils. From 2001 onwards, Roman has refocused his attention on Merlot and Cabernet, realising that more work has to be done in order to achieve the ultimate expression for these two grape varieties. The oak regime has been readjusted from 75% new and 25% older French oak. The 2003 sees the change to ⅓ new, ⅓ one year old and ⅓ two year old French Allier and Nevers oak. He has been a frequent visitor to Chateau Petrus and come to adapt some of the techniques, however concedes that the Merlot fruit at Petrus is “stunning in its flavour structure and intensity”.
The difficulty for Australian producers of this variety is to actually define a style and then produce the goods – unlike Pomerol where hundreds of years of fine tuning has occurred. What are the defining qualities of Merlot that Roman is looking to develop? “Mulberry fruit, Christmas cake, opulence, richness of flavour, softness with finely balanced tannins”. These are the qualities expected in a world class Merlot. There is no need to incorporate Cabernet, in his mind the Merlot should be able to hold its own. There is also the question of racking. Roman chooses to only rack twice, however more racking may be ultimately required. His thoughts for the 2004 vintage are to rack half of the barrels 4 times a year with the remainder being racked only twice. The balancing act is to maintain the colour as well as increase complexity and balance. Time will tell as to how successful Roman has been.
Opaque black purple colour with black purple hue. The nose is perfumed with powerful notes of mulberry, violets, blackcurrant and white pepper evident. The palate has the qualities that define Merlot – opulence and structure. Layers of mulberry and spice are counterpointed with white pepper and cedar with just a hint of liquorice. Perfect balance, velvet tannins followed by a profoundly long aftertaste of white pepper and liquorice.
Cellar 10-12 years (2014-2016)
Robert Parker's Review
The 2003 Merlot Brookman Vineyard (which sees about 40% new French oak) exhibits a dense ruby/purple color as well as notes of dried herbs intermixed with espresso roast, and medium to full body.
(Notes sourced from Robert Parker, The Wine Advocate #155)
ROBERT PARKER'S RATING: 88 points