2016 Rileys of Eden Valley The Engineer Merlot

Vineyard: Merlot is grown on the Riley's estate located approximately central in the Eden Valley wine region. The soil profile is predominately sandy loam over clay, which allows for good drainage and water retention throughout the drier months. The vineyard is ideal for Merlot grapes, with cool evening temperatures developing into warm to hot days at an altitude of 440m. Minimal irrigation is required with most years stated as a 'Dry Grown' vineyard.

Season: The 2016 vintage began with well below-average winter rainfall, followed by a warm and dry spring, which enhanced flowering and set to give average to above-average yield potential. Low disease pressure was maintained by one of the hottest Decembers on record, though temperatures cooled down in the New Year and rainfall around veraison in late January brought relief to the dry-grown, old-vine Eden Valley vineyards. This was followed by further rainfall in early March which eased the stress on all varieties. The fruit matured with an earlier harvest, as predicted due to an early Easter. Open, light and airy vine canopies allowed for good flavour, sugar and colour and mature tannins to develop at harvest, which was overall characterised by average yields but very high quality.

Wine making:  The Merlot grapes were hand picked and made on the family estate. The juice was gently pressed in a traditional basket press before skin contact and increased ferment temperatures assisted wine making to maintain colour and delicate aromas of the Merlot grapes. Within weeks the processed wine was transferred to seasoned French oak barriques to mature for a further 18 months.

Appearance: Deep purple

Aroma/Bouquet: Dark berry fruits are dominating with intense satsuma plum and morello cherry.

Palate: A medium to full bodied wine on the palate with plush dark red berries and hints of blue fruits. Obvious notes of dark chocolate and mint weave through the palate to deliver a silky smooth but slightly grippy finish.

Food Pairing: Grilled meats, caramelized onion with roast tomatoes and goat curd or something sweet dark chocolate fondue with fresh berries.

Alcohol: 14%

pH: NA

Acidity: NA

Residual Sugar: NA

Production: NA

Cellar potential: 15+ years

Wine consultant: Joanne Irvine