The fruit for this wine was grown entirely on the gravelly soils of the Gimblett Gravels growing region in Hawkes Bay. This unique area is recognised for producing consistently high coloured and full flavoured Merlot wines. The Villa Maria Vineyards Ngakirikiri, Twyford Gravels and Omahu Gravels all contributed parcels of fruit, each with their own unique characteristics. The free draining soils of these vineyards helped ensure balanced fruit and canopy growth ideal for ripe fruit flavour and tannin development. Yields were cropped at 1.75kg/vine producing fruit that was richly concentrated and ripe in flavour.
Hand harvested bunches were collected in picking baskets and transported to the Auckland winery. Each parcel of fruit was de-stemmed and crushed into small (2-6 tonne) open top fermenters. The ferments were hand plunged three to four times a day to achieve a gentle but extractive maceration. After fermentation the wine remained in contact with the skins for an extra seven to ten days before being pressed off to barrel. Once malolactic fermentation concluded, the wines were racked off lees and returned to new French barriques for maturation. After sufficient maturation, the wines were blended, gently fined and bottled.
Displaying all the pedigree of its predecessors, this Reserve Merlot displays a plush nose featuring red and black plums, rich fruitcake and floral violet aromas. Careful blending with a small percentage of Cabernet Franc has introduced some complexing lifted red-liquorice notes. The palate follows delivering lush dark fruits, creamy supportive oak and integrated tannins.