Site | Region
The estate is located in the Joanna section in the Wrattonbully wine region, the northern neighbour of Coonawarra, in South Australia.
It similarly benefits from soil profiles, like the famed Terra Rossa, and climate, like the Bonney Upwelling phenomenon cooling nights during summer periods. And then, Wrattonbully is a step up in elevation across gentle sloping ranges with great variation of aspect among its vineyards, and slightly warmer daytime average temperatures.
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With its climatic factors like diurnal temperature swings and coolness during the ripening period, combined with its unique physical presence like soils and aspect, the vineyard is suited to producing Right-Bank and Left-Bank varieties at their best.
Merlot | “Right Bank”
Within the estate lie exceptional parcels of merlot. It was established without compromise and every decision by the owners was with a deliberate long term vision to produce extraordinary merlot.
Five different clones of merlot are planted.
Soils profiles are classic terra rossa over limestone and iron rich loam over a clay and limestone base.
The parcel has an elevated rocky sloping rise, among the highest in elevation in the region, with an aspect perfectly suited to creating a superior “Right Bank” merlot.
The elements of elevation, multiple clones and soil profiles allow for microclimates within the one site.
The interplay between a mysterious clay plate and infertile limestone strike a balance to create merlot with great complexity, structure and aromatics.
This parcel is consistently producing merlot that is talked about.
Meet your Mérite Makers
Mike and his wife, Colleen, purchased land in the Wrattonbully district in 2000 and went about planting the vineyard to cabernet, shiraz, malbec and merlot. Merlot was of particular interest to Mike, as he felt the region and the soils on the site might well prove to be perfect for it. When newer clones became available in Australia, Mike set about planting the ultimate 18ha parcel with each clone, driven by an obsession to create the country's best merlot.
Deep red colour with a good purple tint. The aromas are coconutty, dark plum, lightly minty and chocolaty, showing ripe fruit, while the palate is full-bodied and ripe, with generous flavour and tannin. The wine is full-bodied and deep, well structured and long, with firm tannins and good length. The tannins are firm and balanced and the wine has brightness and freshness. A rich, lush, sweet-fruit wine, with remarkable structure for a pure merlot. Drink 2016 to 2031.
Huon Hooke, January 2016
4.5 stars, 93 Points
Read more here...
This one could be a real game changer. While many Australian merlots are bland and monochromatic, this debut wine from Ruckus Estate is a very different beast. There is some great fruit here, along with quite prominent oak (50% new), and the overall package might change your mind about Merlot in Australia as this could easily be mistaken for Right Bank Bordeaux. Impressive. New clones planted in Wrattonbully and great work from consultant winemaker Sue Bell are the key here, with all the bells-and-whistles (joke) winemaking including partial whole bunch, open ferments, indigenous yeasts etc. This is dark and inky but at the same time subtle and beguiling. I'll be looking out for the second release. Winsor Dobbin
Read his full review here...
Max Allen picks the 2013 Mérité Merlot as his "New Red" Top Drop in Gourmet Traveller magazine. He writes: "From a vineyard planted with new merlot clones, made by Sue Bell of Bellwether in Coonawarra, this is an impressively elegant perfumed wine - little red berries, aniseed & cinnamon - that should age gracefully in the cellar"
Read the review here...
Hand harvesting is just part of the story with a floral lift to the mulberry leaf fruits that belong in the cabernet family of sweet black fruits and beetroot. The palate is slick with merlot red fruit refinement and firms as the red cheery fruits flow, with oak contributing vanilla briar flavours. In a year, the balance of oak and fruit will reward with more smooth complexity. Drink by 2023. 95/100 Rob Geddes MW "Australian Wine Vintages" also known as "The Gold Book" which is now available as a handy app here...
Single Vineyard and 'new clone' Merlot produced by Sue Bell for Ruckus Estate. Aiming for Merlot magic. Smooth ride across the palate with fine tannins, blue fruit, bay leaf, and saline acidity. It's an elegant restrained Merlot - cellar to 15 years. 93 points. Mike Bennie for Australia's WBM Magazine
Philip White wrote about the 2013 Mérité Merlot for Indaily - Adelaide's Independent News. He considered it "unlike any other Australian Merlot I know...(sic) This wine is staggering in its smooth intensity, royal opulence and harmonious complexity. I’m loving watching it prove you can achieve all this without the normal ocker gooey jammy flavour-stifling alcohol"
You can read the full review here...
Appearance | Deep ruby core. Hues of black cherry and blackberry. Youthful ruby pink rim. Nose | Medium+ intensity of ripe red berry fruits with blackberry, black cherry and fresh plum; a lightly stewed plum note - overall a pure fruit expression; velvet violets precede a noticeable signature of oak, with toasty smoky moments; clove and vanilla suggestions. Palate | As ripe and lush as the nose suggests with flavours of Doris plum, black cherry and even a light blue fruit moment; youthful back bone of acidity and tannins; violets and black rose, toasty oak; there's a sweet spot mid-palate. Finish | Long, memorable, quite complex. A wine destined to age for 8-15 years if stored correctly. Great balance and length.
Cameron J Douglas, Master Sommelier
"This wine has changed the way I think about Australian Merlot, the perfumes and complexities are magnificent. I am matching it with our rabbit dish - the concentration and intensity (of the wine) stands up to the mustard and yeast sauce but doesn’t overwhelm the meat. A good way to show how great Merlot can be when done with the respect it deserves.”
Gareth Burnett, maitre d' and sommelier, Woodland House
Now, Mike and Colleen are creating wines from their vines. They started with the 2013 Merite Merlot and critics sat up and took note. "Unlike any other Merlot I know" wrote one, "a new benchmark" wrote another. Ruckus debuted in the 2017 Halliday Wine Companion as a Top Ten Best New Winery.
Yet they feel they are just getting started...