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Geoff Merrill

by Tom Cannavan

These notes accompany our in-depth feature on the McLaren Vale.

Geoff Merrill Sauvignon Blanc 2006
Very pale colour, but lovely zippy, bright Sauvignon nose with tropical fruit and plenty of vibrant gooseberry and a hint currant leafy quality. Fine palate, with plenty of power and zip, perhaps a little too alcoholic for me, but real zest and bite in one of the better McLaren Vale Sauvignons.

Merrill McLaren Vale Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2006
Intense, quite creamy and broad nose, with very nice fruit with a lanolin quality and plenty of lemon and hints of tropicality. Juicy, punchy palate, with masses of citrus and a broadening palate with plenty of verve and sweet mid-palate fruit, but a lovely acid balance into a long, creamy finish.

Geoff Merrill Chardonnay 2004
Nicely vegetal touches to very good, ripe fruit, with a citrus and buttery tone. Nice leesy, creamy character without too much oak. On the palate really bright fruit sweetness, with tropical, pineapple tones and good oak. Becomes quite toasty, and though the lemony acidity seems a little unknit, a very nice Chardonnay.

Geoff Merrill Reserve Chardonnay 2002
All McLaren Vale fruit in this vintage, though normally some fruit will come from Geoff's Coonawarra vineyards too. French oak fermented and aged, almost all new. Beautiful Bourbon-barrel nose with plenty of charry, coffeeish toast but also hints of honey and leaf tea. Sumptuous palate with masses of fruit, quiet a thick texture and an orangy fruit quality with tropical notes. Oak is creamy and doesn't dominate into a long, sweet-edged finish.

Geoff Merrill Grenache Rose 2006
24 hours maceration gives a deep cherry pink colour. Nose is very fragrant and perfumed, with floral, old roses nuances and bright raspberry and creamy strawberry fruit. Plenty of creamy, mouthfilling red fruit on the palate, with a fairly soft acidity and a hint of tannic bite that makes this juicy, jammy and very delicious. Easy drinking and very nicely made.

Geoff Merrill Shiraz Grenache Mourvèdre 2003
Hugely opulent plum and black coffee nose, with spices and a luscious, ripe black cherry quality. On the palate a big, densely structured, very fruity wine, with high extraction and a mouthfilling texture. Lovely plummy fruit still retains freshness, and there is life about this into a sweet-fruited finish balanced by rugged yet smooth tannins and good acidity. Decent length too.

Geoff Merrill Cabernet Shiraz 2003
Slightly leafy cabernet character is nicely judged, with a touch of raspberry giving light and shade to creamy black plum fruit. The palate has more structure and more of an edge than the Shiraz Grenache Mourvèdre in this range, and a fresh, crisp finish with lovely balance. A delicious wine.

Merrill Shiraz Grenache Viognier 2004
The Viognier is a prominent component on the nose, with a touch of dried apricot and a floral note. Fine black fruit begins to emerge and dominate. On the palate lots of dried plum and cherry fruit and a dry, slightly leathery quality with spices and a peppery character. Very nice savoury oak and tannins add structure and this finishes with a nice balance of fruit, spice and acidity.

Geoff Merrill Merlot 2002
Big, ripe, plummy and slightly tomato nose, with very ripe and dense merlot showing good varietal character. Plenty of oak too. On the palate this is big, ripe and mouthfilling, but avoids being soupy thanks to quite nice peppery, spicy oak qualities and a decent structure of tannins and acidity and a roasted coffee darkness.

Geoff Merrill Shiraz 2002
This has quite an elegant oak structure, with a savoury, slightly gamy quality of fruit adding a lot of interest. There are plenty of ripe plum and black berry fruits, but that edge of bloody, ripe fruit character is attractive. On the palate this is brimming with black fruits, but there's a lean stripe of quite steely tannin and a bite of pepper and spice, along with persistent acidity, that really gives the finish some life and bite.

Geoff Merrill Cabernet Sauvignon 2002
Again a little touch of vegetal quality and leafy quality on the nose is expressive of the Cabernet, with olive and blackcurrant notes. On the palate it has a medium-bodied texture and a nicely juicy, quite ripe and sweet black fruit quality. It perhaps has a tiny lack of concentration on the mid palate, but the smooth oak tannins fill in and leave this savoury and well balanced.

Geoff Merrill Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2000
A blend of approximately 80/20 McLaren Vale and Coonawarra fruit, spending 24 months in first American, then French oak. A much more minty and eucalypt character than the regular Cabernet bottling, with ripe, very dense blackcurrant aromas with terrific purity. Lovely sophisticated oak quality and bottle age adds a cedary, savoury edge. Lovely palate too, with a flood of slightly earthy, gamy fruit that maintains that creamy blackcurrant purity, with fine, quite chocolaty tannins combining with coffeeish, svelte oak into a long, nicely balanced finish. Lovely stuff.

Geoff Merrill Reserve Shiraz 2000
29 months in American then French oak in this selection of Shiraz. It has a very complex nose with incense and lots of gamy, animal notes, as well as ripe, bloody and plummy plum fruit. The palate is savoury and full of finesse, with cedar and all sorts of gamy nuances to a solid core of fruit. Polished tannins and a lovely infill of cedary, spicy oak marry with gentle acidity into a persistent, moreish finish. Another beautiful example of restrained and intelligent winemaking.

Geoff Merrill 'Henley' Shiraz 2000
Bottled in a super-heavyweight bottle this is Geoff's ultra-premium icon wine, named after Henley beach where he has fond memories of growing up with his grandfather. Only 200 dozen bottles are produced, and the selected wines are aged for 18 months in Radoux French oak. Very gamy, supple, subtle animal and bloody notes on the nose, where no one component of oak or fruit dominating. On the palate there's a beautiful warmth of supple, toasty, plummy fruit, with a really seamless quality. The structure of the tannins is beautifully linear and harmonious, with plenty of spice, pepper and toast, but that integrated, deep, sensuous fruit and finely integrated acid just extends the finish leaving this very long and very impressive indeed. Outstanding.

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