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Orange Merlot climbs to the top
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It has been said that Australia is yet to crown its best Merlot. Could the region of Orange in New South Wales climb above the others and claim the title?
The release of the 2006 Climbing Merlot is definitely a step closer to reinforcing consumers’ understanding that Orange is an exceptional region for the production of this rather difficult to grow and challenging variety.
The wine was given a stamp of approval by the trade at the end of last year, being awarded the Champion Merlot Trophy at the 2007 National Cool Climate Wine Show, and it is now readily available in restaurants and fine wine retailers.
With an estate vineyard which represents a considerable percentage of the total vineyard area in the region, Climbing (along with its Central Ranges stablemate, Rolling) is well positioned to trumpet the unique quality message of Orange and the benefits of the unusual intensity of the sun at this altitude (giving the fruit incredible colour and powerful flavour) and the continual cool temperatures (creating a smooth elegance).
The stringent standards started by winemaker Philip Shaw has helped senior winemaker Debbie Lauritz realise the potential of their mature 508 hectare estate vineyard and continue to drive the innovative and exciting wine styles that are clearly evident in the Climbing Wines range.
Lauritz describes the 2006 Orange season as ‘warm, dry and around 2 weeks early’. The fruit for the 2006 Climbing Merlot was sourced from the elevated sections of the estate vineyard, with red soils and a high rock content, ideal for optimising varietal Merlot flavours. Crops were kept low at around 6 tonnes per hectare.
The wine definitely shows the maturity of the vineyard and low cropping levels.
“We are really proud of the 2006; it shows intensity of varietal fruit, characteristic cooler-climate leafiness and dark berries, with a mouth filling middle-palate richness,” Lauritz said.
“As with all great Merlot, texture is vitally important and here we have captured one that is supple and long – without abruptness — and soft, velvety tannins that linger on the finish.”
“14 months in French Oak Barriques helps create the ideal weight and softness.”
It won’t be long before the rest of the world catches on as recent distribution growth both at home and abroad by the energetic team behind Climbing Wines and Rolling Wines, has seen 26 countries now having easy access to these wines, making them the most widely available wines from Orange in the world.