The release of a new vintage of the high-acclaimed site-specific Mount Bullet Merlot from Shannon Vineyards is always eagerly anticipated and met with high expectations, due to the enviable pedigree of this icon wine from the Elgin Valley.
The Pedigree: Ever since the release of the maiden 2007 Mount Bullet Merlot, Shannon Vineyards have turned heads both locally and internationally, garnering widespread acclaim for this stellar red wine which has shown itself to be the most highly rated Merlot in South Africa and one of the country’s finest red wines.
This acclaim includes a pinnacle Platter’s 5 Star rating for the 2008 Mount Bullet – one of very few Merlots ever to receive this recognition – and virtually every other vintage to date having been nominated for Platter’s 5 star rating. In addition the Mount Bullet is always a regular recipient of 90 plus ‘outstanding’ ratings from highly-acclaimed international and local wine critics, such as Tim Atkin (British Master of Wine), Robert Parker (USA’s Wine Advocate), Mathew Jukes (distinguished UK wine columnist and author ), Jamie Goode (UK-based wine writer, author and blogger), South Africa’s Christian Eedes (Winemag.co.za) and Miguel Chan (Sommelier), as well as esteemed international wine publications like Decanter (UK), Wine Enthusiast (USA) Wine & Spirits Magazine (USA).
Glowing reports on this stellar wine have included:
- “An Adonis robed in carmine”- Platter’s 2010 wine guide
- “Bliss in a bottle”- Harry Haddon on Wineandi.wordpress.com
- “A rare triumphant Merlot” and “one of the country’s finest red wines”- Angela Lloyd on Grape.co.za
- “South Africa’s best Merlot, no debate” – Miguel Chan on Miguelchanwinejournal.blogspot.com
- “Pétrus of the Overberg. World class”- Neil Pendock on Neilpendock.com
- “A Cape benchmark”- Platter’s 2016 wine guide
The 2013 Mount Bullet is sure to follow in the footsteps of the 2012 vintage, a runaway success which received excellent ratings from the UK’s Tim Atkin and the USA’s Robert Parker, a 5-Star nomination for the 2016 Platter’s wine guide, a Gold Medal at the Six Nations Challenge, a Double Gold Medal at the Michelangelo International Wine Awards as well as Category Winner (Voluptuous and Rich Red Wine) at the 2015 Sommelier’s Selection.
Shannon Vineyards 2013 Mount Bullet Merlot
Tasting notes: This stellar and immensely attractive wine displays fragrant ripe red fruit on the nose, especially plums and dark cherries. The palate exhibits an earthy complexity with minerality but still with an excellent expression of ripe fruit, freshness, gorgeous vanilla and spicy notes from the oak and a well-integrated seductive tannin structure. The wine is round and full, silky and elegant, with a long finish. It can be enjoyed now or until 2020.
Suggested food pairings: Enjoy with a beautiful grass-fed beef fillet with a berry and red wine reduction.
Approximate retail price: R325
The name: The Shannon Vineyards Mount Bullet (100% Merlot) is named after the rugged dome on the mountain range above the vineyards, which is depicted on the label. The name Mount Bullet originates from Bullet Bay on the ocean side of the mountain range, where the round granite rocks, rolling back and forth in the surf banging against each other, create the effect of bullets being fired.
In the vineyards and the cellar: The three-hectare merlot block has unique low vigour soils and comprises five vineyards, each planted to a different merlot clone with all five clones harvested, vinified and matured separately (for complexity and balance) before final blending. 50% of the vineyard is made up of French clones, which provide structure and elegance while the other 50% of Italian clones provides richer savoury nuances. The wine is made with a minimal winemaking intervention approach, using natural yeast fermentation and few punch downs. Malolactic fermentation in French oak barriques is followed by maturation in 225-litre barriques for approximately 20 months, using a blend of three Bordeaux cooperages. (New oak – 40%, 2nd fill – 30%, 3rd fill – 20%, and 4th fill – 10%).
Shannon Vineyards’ recipe for success
What sets Shannon Vineyards’ wines apart is the combination of its exceptional cool-climate setting in the Elgin Valley; ancient soils, meticulous vineyard practices that ensure the ultimate expression of their unique terroir in their wines; and a passionate and dedicated team who deliver on excellence in the vineyards and the cellar.
The Elgin Valley
The Elgin Valley is the coolest wine-growing area along South Africa’s south coast, where cooling south-easterly breezes and chilly summer nights allow for slow ripening and the development of intense fruit flavours. The Shannon Vineyards team is passionate about maximising the potential of the Elgin Valley through the wines of Shannon Vineyards.
The Shannon Vineyards Team
James Downes runs the farm with meticulous attention to detail and dedication to impeccable viticulture principles, ensuring the ultimate expression of their unique terroir in their wines. His brother, Stuart, is the very experienced marketing arm of the Shannon team. Winemaking is in the very capable hands of Gordon and Nadia Newton Johnson of Newton Johnson Vineyards’ fame, with whom the Downes Brothers have a long friendship and a fourteen-harvest relationship. Meticulous attention in the vineyards continues into the multi-level cellar in the Upper-Hemel-en-Aarde Valley which makes use of all the latest gravitational engineering principles and grape-sorting techniques, ensuring that the grapes benefit from minimal handling throughout the winemaking process. It is this close working relationship between the Newton Johnson family and Downes brothers over the years that has made this journey so successful.
The Mist Effect, Logo and Wine Labels
The farm’s vineyards, situated hard up against the Koeël Mountains, are in the ‘table cloth’ zone of the ‘Black Southeaster’ which blows relentlessly in the summer months, lowering day- and night-time temperatures. Down below, the Palmiet River, the farm’s eastern boundary, creates the cooling ‘morning mist effect’ caused by cold mountain water flowing in overnight. This cooling effect is beautifully portrayed by the swirling design of the Shannon Vineyards logo and is captured on Shannon Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir wine labels honouring its contribution to the farm’s unique terroir.
The name Shannon Vineyards pays homage to the Irish ancestry of the Downes brothers. Their paternal forefathers, the Shannon and Downes families, hailed from County Cork, Ireland. On their mother’s side, the James family were wine merchants and former owners of the White Horse Pub (1882) in Parsons Green, the City Arms (in the City of London), the Rising Sun (Battersea) and the Marlborough (Chelsea).
Shannon Vineyards’ Wines
The other wines produced by Shannon Vineyards include:
- Shannon Vineyards Sanctuary Peak Sauvignon Blanc 2015, retailing for around R115;
- Shannon Vineyards Semillon 2015, retailing for around R195;
- Shannon Vineyards Rockview Ridge Pinot Noir 2014, retailing for about R275;
- Shannon Vineyards Mascushla Pinot Noir Late Harvest 2012, retailing at about R185 for a 375ml
Shannon Vineyards is open for wine-tasting by appointment only.
Tel: 021 859 2491 · Email: firstname.lastname@example.org · Website: www.shannonwines.com