Merlot bargain buys

Merlot Alpha Domus1

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Wine quality fluctuates with each vintage and yet the price for a given label generally remains unchanged. The message for wine buyers is obvious: stock up in good vintages and avoid wines from poor vintages.

A couple of very good vintages in Hawke’s Bay resulted in a handful of merlots that punch well above their weight. Merlot from 2013 tends to be slightly richer with riper berry fruit flavours while the wines from 2014 are perhaps more elegant and may be better cellaring prospects.

2013 Church Road McDonald Series Merlot (tasting) is the vinous equivalent of a Big Mac, with mouth-watering, dangerously accessible lush, ripe flavours. At the recommended retail price of NZD $26.59, it is clearly a bargain. A quick search on Wine-Searcher revealed that Auckland’s Good Wine Company is offering it at NZD $24.99 for purchases of six bottles or more.

2013 Babich Winemaker’s Reserve Merlot (tasting) also represents value at a price of just NZD $30, but if you buy it from Moore Wilson’s in Wellington you’ll pay around half that price according to my search results. I rate it the equal of the Church Road Merlot, with similar density and ripe fruit flavours.

2014 Babich Winemaker’s Reserve Merlot NZD $30 (tasting) was just a few points behind its older brother and is slightly lighter and more supple, but still offers value. It will be released in a few months’ time when stocks of the earlier vintage have sold out.

Finally, 2014 Alpha Domus The Foxmoth Merlot (tasting) offers plenty of rich, ripe varietal plum and berry flavours for the relatively modest price of NZD $24.


*Disclaimer: Bob Campbell is a director at Wine-Searcher

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