Mills Reef ‘Elspeth’ Merlot 2009

Mills Reef ‘Elspeth’ Merlot 2009

From the Gimblett Gravels in Hawke’s Bay, with over a decade ageing in the bottle (featuring the old ‘moustache’ logo!). Brooding, inky dark carmine red in the glass. Boldly perfumed with crushed red berries, blackcurrant, and that distinctive Merlot plum character leading the way.

As an older wine, I’m finding secondary flavours like tobacco, leather and a smoky tar-like note underlying the fruit flavours. Most of that youthful freshness is ebbing away, but there’s a purity to the concentration and depth that a good Gimblett Gravels aged red will show. It’s still pretty robust – tannins are svelte and ripe, the acidity is holding up and gives enough drive through the palate. That palate is showing a little liquorice, with a pencil-lead, graphite minerality – you would know this is from a stony terroir, with an iron-earthiness, and a definite element of forest floor with the dried herbal leafiness.

This could easily pass as a good right bank Bordeaux. In a good year (and 2009 is considered a great year for this region), the Gimblett Gravels Merlots are hard to beat. 94pts.

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