A rich, full-bodied red blend. This Merlot/Syrah has dominant notes of chocolate, raspberry jam, and black pepper. Smooth, ripe tannins with a lingering jammy finish.
Grape Varieties: 75% Merlot, 25% Syrah
Residual Sugar: 3.0 g/L
Appellation: VQA Niagara Peninsula VQA
I have long thought Merlot and Syrah would potentially be good blending partners. Merlot tends to be ripe and fleshy, full-bodied through the mid-pallet, whereas Syrah tends to get a little lean up the middle, especially in cooler climates. The theory was; that by blending the two varieties, they would complement the weaknesses of the other. Conceptually, I felt that the aromatics we also complementary, Merlot fruit with Syrahs spice. I was a little concerned about Syrah dominating the blend. In short, it was a wine I had long thought about making but was never really motivated to do so.
I should say, I was never motivated to make that wine until last year. That is when at the end of harvest, Kevin Watson (our primary Niagara-On-The-Lake grower) gave me a call and said he had an extra half tonne of Syrah leftover and asked if I wanted something fun to play around. That is who we are as winemakers. We play around. So I asked Richard if he had any gas left in the tank (metaphorically, it was a marathon harvest to that point), but to no surprise, he was game. Richard is always up for a new winemaking experiment.
It was the end of November, and the weather had already turned to winter. We had to nurse a slow and cold fermentation. We were not able to press the Syrah until a week before Christmas.
Merlot generally is harvested in early October. When the Syrah appeared, the Merlot long ago fermented and pressed. The plan had been to make our first (at Traynor) single varietal Merlot. We only dedicated around a tonne of grapes to the program.
I will be honest, blending the two wines was not part of some grand vision. The truth is we were at the end of harvest and out of space. We had a 1,000L tank that only had about 650L of Merlot in it, and when it was time to press the Syrah, we had an oh-oh moment, “Where the heck are we going to put this stuff?” And that is when this blend was born. We had 350L of Syrah after pressing, and that just so happened to be how much room was available in the Merlot tank.
Maybe the gods had a plan. Perhaps we just got lucky. Maybe, if we had room in the Pinot Noir, the Syrah would have gone there. Who knows. What I do know is that sometimes we get lucky. This wine turned out nicely. Very nicely.
Unfortunately, we were not able to get any Syrah again this year. But now we know how delicious this blend can be, and it will be on our list next year. Enjoy it while you can,