Haan Merlot prestige 2009, Barossa Valley, Australia

Drunk October 2013, Gymkhana, London

The winery

The 45 acre (18 hectare) vineyard in the Barossa Valley which makes up the Hanenhof Estate, was initially purchased in 1853 by George Friedrich Schmidt for one pound an acre. It consists mainly of the sandy loam soils that dominate the Barossa Valley floor. These soils have proven excellent for producing some rich, luscious Shiraz and Cabernets.

The Barossa Valley is in South Australia, located 60 km northeast of Adelaide.

Hanenhof Estate is owned by Hans and Fransien Haan, and was purchased in 1993, with the first wine produced in 1997. A few years later the property was expanded to 47 acres. Production is currently limited to approximately 4,000 cases, No grapes are purchased, and seasonal conditions sometimes dictate the quantities produced. 

The estate was set up focusing on Merlot, but it also produces small amount of Malbec, Petit Verdot, Semillon and Viognier overseen by Haan's vineyard manager, Robert Seelander.

Most of the vines are on a simple vertical trellis system with moving wires to lift the foliage and expose the fruit to the sun for full development of flavour and character. The Haan philosophy is based on 'best practice' which means that the vineyard is run on a 'minimal input' system, offering considerable environmental protection. Chemical use is kept to an absolute minimum, as is irrigation and ground disturbance. This commitment to diligent natural resource management ensure that the vineyard has a long term sustainable future. Already this philosophy of providing the best possible conditions in the vineyard has been rewarded with some excellent wines from the property.

The wine

The merlot grapes in this Haan Merlot Prestige 2009 are only from our Hanenhof Vineyard. The vines are 18 years old, grown on a sandy loam with a 2 metre clay base. The vines are trellised on a single wire with two foliage wires to keep the foliage upright and expose the fruit to the maximum amount of sunlight. The fruit was allowed to ripen to 15° baume before picking and cropped at a level of 3.5 tonnes per acre.

This wine was fermented using a selected yeast to enhance fruit definition and depth.  The skins were plunged and pumped over three times per day and the wine allowed to rest on skins for seven days to allow for maximum colour and flavour extraction.  After malolactic fermentation the wine was racked into selected French oak barriques and allowed to mature for 24 months before bottling.

Dark purple in the glass with a powerful aroma of black cherry and plum. The palate is complex with toasted oak, spicey and intense fruit and acidity. Silky smooth, with structured tannins and a super long finish. Perhaps a little excessive sweetness but nothing major. The merlot grape is much derided (Miles - Sideways), but this Haan Prestige proves what can be done with this grape in the right way and in the right place!