16.09.2022

For the first time we introduce Merlot Rare

The best is worth waiting for. 

And we waited. For two years, Merlot Rare 2018 was stored in the finest barriques with the Rare label from the French cooperage François Frères. And then two more years in bottle. In creating it, we capitalized on nearly twenty years of knowledge that the Sonberk vineyard has taught us about growing and creating red wine. We are now proud to present a wine like no other at Sonberk.

It is already the case here that working with blue grapes begins in the vineyard. We have chosen a site east of the apricot organic orchard, which not only has a southern exposure, but also the steepest slope of the terrain allowing maximum sunlight. This is also matched by pruning the vines low with a high planting density. We have over three and a half thousand Merlot plants with competing root systems growing on less than a hectare of land. Merlot is harvested exclusively by hand and is strictly reduced, so that the average yield per head is half that of the white varieties.

The 2018 Merlot harvest fell at the end of October 2018 and the sugar content of the must exceeded 24 °NM. The grapes were first fermented in a stainless steel vinifier for four weeks, after which we pressed the young red wine and racked it into barriques from the renowned French cooperage Francois Fréres. Our cellar master Olda Drápal chose this particular brand back in 2005 and hasn't let it go since. Why? "Because I still like the wine from them the most and also because their barrels are really well crafted," says Olda. 

For a very small part of the 2018 Merlot, we have proceeded to put it in 228-litre barrels from the top of the range called Rare. These are barrels made from exceptionally aged oak wood, which is aged for at least 48 months - up to twice as long as the classic range. It is the outdoor maturation time that is most important for the quality of the wood. "The manufacturer normally allows the wood to mature outdoors, in the rain and sunshine, so that the coarsest tannins are extracted and the wood matures properly," says Olda. 

The maturation of Merlot 2018 in Rare barrels lasted for two years, from 20.11.2018 to 3.12.2020. Given the quality of the grapes and the mash, we bet on what we believe: that wine is made in the vineyard and if the base is good, the wine will make itself. And that was indeed the case with the 2018 Merlot. Bottling in early December 2020 was done without prior filtration and gave us only a few hundred 0.75L bottles. Now - in the autumn of 2022 - we have decided to offer these bottles for sale.

The current condition of the wine invites us to open a bottle and drink it now, but there is also a huge scope for further ageing, which may speak to the taste and quality for at least another decade. 

So is this the best Merlot we have ever made at Sonberk? Perhaps, time will tell. In any case, it is the Merlot to which we have given the most care and attention since 2007, when we first created a red wine at Sonberk.  

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