2008 Hillebrand Carlton Vineyard Merlot

Looking for a wine last night to pair with good ol’ fashion spaghetti and noticed I had two of these in the cellar. Showcase is Hillebrand’s premiere wine label and this single vineyard comes from older Merlot vines on their Carlton vineyard in Niagara on the Lake. 2008 by most measures was a wet summer with an unusually warm harvest season, this made for more challenging growing conditions that in the end yielded interesting variation throughout the region. This Merlot benefited from being in one of the warmest areas in all of Niagara and in the end the yields were consistent to previous years.

Fast tasting summary:

Colour: Nice dark and deep red.
Nose: Plum, dirt (yup, dirt like you ate as a child), licorice.
First sip: Firm but not overwhelming tannins, red fruit (think tree, plums & cherries), good finish.
Further into the wine: The red berries come out, blackberry and red currants, oak is gentle and not overwhelming, tannins remain firm but still present, earthiness and spices all but disappeared.

Thoughts: Impressed with this wine, as my expectations were non-existent (I literally grabbed it blind). $38 is the price to pay for an old-vines single vineyard, and while on the higher side the quality is here and the wine has potential to get stronger with cellaring. I have a second bottle in the cellar and I am quite pleased to know it will be there in a year or two. Cellaring potential is 2 to 5 years, though you will be pleased with the wine today.

CWG Subjective Rating is 87 out of 100.

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