Wine review: There's merit in a well-made merlot

MERLOT can be much derided. From the oft quoted film Sideways to many experiences with some less than exciting middle-of-the road wines, merlot hasn't always had a good profile. But the grape can produce complex, long-lived wines, especially from the "right bank" chateaus of Bordeaux: think Petrus and Cheval Blanc in the Pomerol region.

Cumulus Wines, Climbing, Orange, 2014:

Stewing spice plums and cloves. Almost maraschino cherry and some soft kid skin leather notes. All this seems dark, but the aroma is lifted and perfumed. Medium bodied. Available from major retailers. Rating: 8/10 RRP: $24 Alc: 13.3%

TarraWarra Estate, K Block, Yarra Valley, 2014:

Perfectly ripe plum fruit with soft blackberry preserve and aromatic dark cherry. Carries a highlight of smooth cola and baked shortcrust tart. Fine but robust tannins. Available from Rating: 9.5/10 RRP: $35 Alc: 13.5%

Ruckus Estate, Mérité, Wrattonbully, 2013:

Soft milky coffee, warmed plums, toasted cinnamon, sweet cedar, protein/meaty/whole bunch feral notes but tempered by pretty purple flowers. Bright mulberry and boysenberry added to the well-judged oak sweetness gives this a creamy, "Drumstick" ice cream kind of feel. The alcohol is kept in check: listed at 13.5%. Very limited release. Rating: 9/10 RRP: $45 Alc: 13.5%