Merlot 'Clos Roareti', Rizzardi, Veneto 2018
This is merlot a class apart. Think Pomerol from a warm vintage, or a very top Napa Valley merlot - from a 100-year old walled vineyard, the Clos Roaretti, this is rich, full-bodied and complex. Sumptuously laden with plum fruit, but also with freshness and finesse. Everything seems to be here, a whisper of oak, fine structure, and only made in the best vintages.
Upon pouring inviting aromas of sweet, ripe plum and spice gently emerge from the glass - hallmarks of fine merlot in my book. This new 2018 vintage is a more sumptuous wine than its predecessor, and I say that as someone who really quite enjoyed the 2017 vintage.
The palate is laden with ripe plum, delicate spice and hint of darker currant fruit, it's full-bodied, and yet retains a fine structure and an elegant freshness.
Two years spent resting in fine French oak barrels has knitted the flavours together beautifully, and there's a delicate grip and pleasing note of warmth and sweet spice to the finish.
It's certainly a thoroughly enjoyable glass on its own, but that streak of freshness is in part what made it so exceptionally good alongside roast shoulder of lamb with Shrewsbury sauce. It's a dish that requires a wine with bold, ripe fruit, but also a zing of freshness to deliver the flavours to the palate, and the 2018 Clos Roareti nailed it, it's a combination I shall be revisiting in the near future.
James Russell-Grant - FromVineyardsDirect