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hand harvesting in Stellenbosch, De Trafford Merlot
De Trafford Merlot Tasting hosted at Southern Guild Gallery
Merlot Fermentation graphs

MerlotVertical Tasting Notes

These notes attempt to give some guidance to when best to drink our wines. The wines tasted were from our own library collection kept in an underground cellar. The conditions are good, but not ideal with ambient temperature going up to 18°C in the middle of the summer and down to 12°C in winter. This probably mirrors the average collector, but those with differing conditions should adjust accordingly.

Please note we started to get considerably better quality and longer corks since the 1996 vintage.  Many of the 1992 to 1995 vintages unfortunately vary a lot depending on the condition of the corks.

Please note that these notes should supersede the predictions of the fact sheets, which are prepared shortly after bottling. We will attempt to update these tasting notes every 2 years. We would welcome any feedback.

Tasting date: October 2015

1992*  Cork in pretty poor shape. Colour pale red with slight brown edge. Impressive for a 23 year old red. Fine, complex nose with sandalwood and cinnamon notes. Delicious, juicy palate although it’s lost its primary fruit flavours. A little past its best, but still delish. A single 300L barrel from 4 year old vines. THE LAST BOTTLE.

1993       Cork in poor shape. Attractive balsamic aspect to nose. Rather dry palate. Acidity has melted into the wine, but still a little harsh overall relative to fruit. Could be an average Barollo or Barbaresco in terms of flavour and structure. Drink up, won’t improve.

1994       Cork in poor shape. (1 bottle leaking). Colour similar to 1992. Lovely dusty cinnamon nose. Red cherry and red berry fruit showing quite nicely. A little less fruit on palate compared to nose and drying a bit. Past its best, but still drinking very well. More Chianti than Pomerol.
1995*  Cork in poor shape. Medium red colour with brick red hue and tawny / brick red edges. A little richer and riper fruit on nose compared to 1994. More dark fruit and plums. Nice old oiled furniture nose and nutty complexity. Quite long. A bit past its best, but going strong. Full rich complex Pomerol like character.

1996       Cork in very good condition. (First year we were able to get longer, better quality corks). Nice colour similar to 1995, though a bit lighter and more orange. Slight orange peel nose, cinnamon, and some plum. Drinking quite well, though a bit past its best. A lighter vintage with a lot of rain during the growing season. Quite Bordeaux like, but more like a weak vintage from the Cabernet dominant Medoc area than the Merlot Right Bank. Very enjoyable, though a bit short and sappy on the finish.

1997       Medium red / brick red colour. Some sediment, but more tartrate crystals than in older vintages. Lovely powdery, creamy aspect to the nose a bit different to the rest. Attractive nutty palate. Still very alive, nice structure with firm tannins and quite elegant in a more European style. Quite long. At peak and going strong.
Our first child, Nicholas, was born in January, just before this vintage. It turned out to be the latest, coolest, most challenging, but very rewarding, classically styled vintage. (A stand out vintage in many ways!)

1998       Poor cork. Deep red colour with orange / brick red rim. Big, dense, meaty and rich, concentrated fruit nose. Almost Barossa Shiraz like. Big, rich, slightly sweetish palate with chunky tannins. Hot vintage wine. Needs a big piece of steak to go with it. Bit short on finish and lacking elegance. Drink now.

1999       Cork OK, bit soft. (CCS) Nice colour, medium red with brick red rim. Lovely expressive nose. Quite sweet, concentrated ripe fruit nose. A little jammy, but in quite an attractive, complex way. Palate too. The sweetish fruit being toned down by age to offer quite a complex, appealing glass. Moderate length. Perhaps technically a little past its best, but finding a nice balance now and a joy to drink.

2000* Cork in quite good shape. (CCS) Nice colour, far more youthful than the last few vintages – looks less than 10 years old. The best of 1997, 1998 and 1999 in one glass. Power, complexity, elegance and still lots of fruit. Pomerol like complex, beguiling nose, but forthcoming richness of the New World. Delicious big mouthful. Quite long on finish. At best, should still last a long time.

2001*  Cork a bit soft. (Xiberta) Lighter and slightly more developed colour than 2000. Lovely fresh, almost floral nose. Very attractive and quite elegant. Palate very good too. Again quite elegant and Bordeaux like, though more like the Cabernet dominant Left Bank than the Merlot dominant Right Bank. A little past its best, but delicious.

2002     Medium deep red colour with brick red edge. Attractive fruitcake like nose. Plummy and rich. Nice palate, but lacking structure and complexity of other vintages. Finish a little short. Drinking well, should still last a few years.

2003*  A lovely medium deep red colour with a little brick red rim. A little balsamic complexity similar to 1993. Plums, antique furniture and lots of spices, Christmas cake, on the nose. Complex, excellent palate. Quite long, nice structure and very complete. At peak now, should last quite a while yet.

2004     Colour similar to 2003. More restrained than 2003 overall. Dusty, nutty complexity on nose. Drinking very well. A little dry on the finish in an attractive Medoc like way. At peak now, should last a few years further.

2005     Lovely medium deep red colour with slight brick red rim. Lovely plummy nose with some spicy fruitcake aspect and dusty overlay. Juicy, plummy fruit on the palate with dryish tannins a little separate. Drinking very well. Will keep several years.

2006* Deep red, youthful colour. Dense, concentrated nose. A little meatiness with plummy fruit and dark berries and some creaminess. Palate very Cabernet like, but with a big mid-palate. Just hitting its stride. Nice structure in quite a masculine way and a long finish. May yet improve. Should last at least another decade.

2007      Lovely colour. A bit lighter than 2006, but just as youthful. Nutty, quite evolved fruit on nose. A hint of tomato paste. Lovely palate. Dryish tannins with nicely evolving fruit and quite a long, dry finish. Drink now and over the next 5 years.

2008      A little lighter, slightly more evolved colour than 2007. Nose very expressive and quite developed. Hint of tomato paste and floral, herbal notes. Palate quite complete and ready to drink. A lot less structure than 2007. Drink now over the next 4 years.

2009     Medium deep red youthful colour. A little more charry, smoky aspect than usual, adding another layer of complexity. A big palate with lots of depth and complexity and a very dry finish. Still to improve over the next 3 or 4 years and last a further decade.

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