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Cumulus (Australia) Climbing Merlot 2004
Long before Miles declared his loathing for Merlot in the movie Sideways, I had my own problems with the grape. Too often merlots I tasted had a tinned tomato sweetness, or a jammy softness that was completely devoid of tension or structure in the mouth. Recently I've been going through a bit of a Merlot purple patch however, having tasted several excellent examples on a recent visit to the Okanagan valley in Canada, and having popped the cork (well, unscrewed the screwcap actually) on this wine from the Orange region of Australia. Made by Philip Shaw, who stood down as head winemaking honcho for Southcorp to form his own company in 2003, it has a nose suffused with cedar, tobacco, woodsmoke and spice, intermingling with ripe, plummy fruit and a dry, curranty note. On the palate the ripeness and chocolaty sweetness of the fruit is tempererd by liquorice and charry notes, a juicy cherry skin acidity and silky but persistent tannins. Balanced and savoury in the finish, this is a grown-up, delicious wine that needs food to show at its best. 8.99 Majestic, but on offer at 6.49 when you buy two until October 31st.