Merlot. A lovely bottle from Thyme Hill in Alexandra. Perhaps the Southernmost Merlot in the world?? I'll have to check.
We had this the other night paired with (this will likely make most wine lovers cringe) beef burgers. Not just any old burger. These were mixed with a chipotle pepper, stuffed (yes, stuffed) with a good aged cheddar from Kapiti and served on a sesame bun with the lot (egg and bacon). A light smattering of herbed mayo, dijon, sliced tomato and lettuce topped it off. I didn't have any beetroot (sacrilige I know).
The merlot paried up nicely with the mild earthy heat from chipotles in the burgers, herbs in the mayo and with the smoky bacon. Wonderful foil to the richness of the melted cheese as well. Of course the wine gets tasted alone prior to eating and it is a fantastic drop.
I got loads of dark berry fruit, currants, and black cherry. Some sweet wood aromas and faint floral (violet perhaps) notes. Definitely some herbaceous character (a little bay leaf) and subtle peppery spice. Lightly toasty but not overpowering, it is great drinking now but I think will benefit from a wee sleep as well. It is from the 2003 vintage so maybe at least another year or two will release some wonderful bottle age characters.
With 2003 being called an above average year for Central Otago, it certainly didn't pass by Alexandra and this wine is a lush and balanced mouthful. I'll be keeping a couple for later evaluation.
But it is definitely more than a burger wine so I had another glass last night with some grilled lamb chops. Rare.