I’ve decided that the single biggest challenge with these two Brash Higgins reds is deciding what to attack first – is it the flesh and round generosity of the MRLO or the more fragrant and light – yet structured – FRNC? I went with the MRLO this time, but I might well have the order wrong.
Anyway, these two certainly impress (again) if cast in a slightly fleshier light than the 14s…
Brash Higgins MRLO McLaren Vale Merlot 2015
Sourced from the Lennon vineyard, planted in 1994, this is fermented in amphora, pressed and then returned to the clay pots for a further 9 months. Includes 10% Nero for colour, tannin and acidity.
Great colour here too – plum skin purple. I think the Nero has more of an impact this vintage, as there seems more black licorice that I always see in Nero. What a wonderfully expressive wine this is again – black and red fruits, a little warmth, pithy tannins and a long, meaty finish. It tastes like how you want Australian Merlot to taste, and the long maceration time gives this a stocky, meaty depth that works very nicely indeed. It’s just a little warmer than the near perfect ’14, but again hard to knock this as a delicious and utterly alive wine. More Merlot like this please! Best drinking: 2017-2025+. 18/20, 93/100. 14.5%, $37. Would I buy it? Sure would. I’d share a bottle, possibly drink more of it than my companion. I do that sometimes.
Brash Higgins FRNC Cabernet Franc 2015
This comes off a vineyard along Malpa Road with vines planted in ’01. Again, long maceration time (6 weeks on skins) and matured for 9 months in (older) barrels.
What is interesting here is the shape of the palate and flavours of oak maturation vs amphora ageing of the MRLO. It makes this immediately more recognisable, more conventional. There’s a syrupy edge here that doesn’t quite gell either – a suggestion that Franc might not be ideally suited to the Vale. What saves everything though are the fine, long tannins, lifting this up into more interesting territory. That structure is excellent, and more fireworks might come in time, but this isn’t quite the trailblazer like the Merlot. Still quality wine. Best drinking: 2016-2025+. 17.5/20, 91/100. 13.6%, $30. Would I buy it? I’d drink a glass.
Buy these wines direct from Brash (Brad) here.
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