Balnaves Cabernet Merlot 2002

Over time I am coming to realise more and more that the cabernet sauvignon based wines of the Coonawarra region represent extremely good value, age well and are generally of a high average standard. I expect I will buy more and more of them for cellaring. Which brings me to today’s subject, the 2002 cabernet sauvignon merlot from Balnaves – a blend of 90.5% cabernet sauvignon and 9.5% merlot. In my humble opinion, blends are underrated in the Australian wine scene.

Perhaps in the case of cabernet merlot blends, this has been because they are often the “cheaper” of a producer’s wines, the “first” wine being a straight cabernet sauvignon. Perhaps it is because Australia seems to have struggled to produce good wines, at least over a period of time, based principally on the merlot grape. This latter point deserves a separate post. But returning to this wine, the blend works.

A deep ruby in colour, the wine opens to an aroma of licorice, chocolate, a sprinkle of old tea leaves on the tail, and cloves. It is quite pungent. Black olives, cloves, black cherry and mostly resolved tannins make up the palate. The wine spent twelve months on French and American oak and was made by Pete Bissell. A lovely wine drinking well now. 88-89 points (very good)

Abv: 13.5%
Price: around $40
Vendors: try Cellarit
Website: Balnaves
Tasted: June 2012

3 thoughts on “Balnaves Cabernet Merlot 2002”

  1. I'm always interested to know why we don't see more true 'Bordeaux' blends, with PV and CF included. Interesting that at 8.5% the producer need not actually declare the merlot in this wine, tho I am sure – especially with Coonawarra Cabernet – that its inclusion is immediately obvious.


  2. It's a good question – presumably the local market likes (or perhaps most easily understands) single variety wines. I think the Yarra Valley used to make a few of the classic Bordeaux blend, and ditto for Coonawarra (in fact, I missed out on a few bottles of Bowen Estate the other day that used to make it years ago …). Petit verdot seems to ripen better in Australian regions, so that adds something too 😉


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