Although New Zealand and Oyster Bay are both best known for Sauvignon Blanc, it’s the Oyster Bay Merlot that has captured my attention. I first tasted this Merlot at the first ever North American Wine Blogger’s Conference last October. At that conference there was an open tasting of 100 wines from New Zealand. Most of the wines were Sauvignon Blanc, but there were a few red wines in the mix. I tried this Merlot from Oyster Bay and it instantly had a “wow factor” for me. I had been tasting grassy Sauvignon Blanc prior to this one, so I wasn’t sure if the wine truly was as good as I thought or if my senses had become tainted by all the other wines. So… I took note of the wine and planned to pick some up to taste later.
When I returned from the conference I set out to find a bottle of this Oyster Bay Merlot and sure enough, I couldn’t find it anywhere. Isn’t that always the case when you know of a specific wine and you set out to find it? I stopped in several of my favorite wine shops and had no luck. I had given up on finding this wine, when one day I was casually strolling through the wine section at a Kroger grocery store and bam! there it was. Finally, I can check this thing out with a formal review.
The Oyster Bay brand was created by Delegat’s Wine Estate in 1990 and has gotten numerous accolades over the years. They are best known for their white wines from Marlborough, but also have some vineyards in Hawkes Bay, where this Merlot is produced. Hawkes Bay is the second largest wine growing region in NZ and the top producer of red wines in the country.
This is one of the most interesting Merlots I’ve tasted in some time. There’s a lot going on in this wine. The nose is filled with herbal, floral and fruit aromas. Raspberry, violets, sage and spice blend together in a dirty perfume that will have you smelling the wine over and over because it’s just wonderful. The palate is filled with ripe raspberry and cherry flavors along with a hint of licorice that leads into a relatively long finish. The tannins are just right. To me, this is a very good Merlot with a lot of character—but it may not be for everyone. Some may find this too dirty for their tastes, but I’d suggest giving it a try to find out how you like it.
Wine: Oyster Bay
Find Oyster Bay Merlot with Snooth