The perception of merlot in the eye of Australian wine quaffers always intrigues me. Many have told me merlot is their favourite wine, but as I see it, merlot is a variety many Australian producers get wrong. Personally, when I buy Australian merlot, I generally look to regions capable of great cabernet sauvignon, such as the Margaret River, Coonawarra and the Yarra Valley.
Unfortunately, Katnook's 2007 Founder's Block shows the unevenness associated with both Coonawarra's 2007 vintage and inexpensive Australian merlot. It's soupy but green, with thinly scented, sticky plum, cherry and cinnamon aromas coursed over by a minty/herbal note and touched by rather blunt oak. The palate follows with thin, disjointed red cherry fruits underpinned by prune and olive undertones, but funnily enough, it presents a bright lift through the palate's upper reaches courtesy of faintly sour-edged, astringent acids and firming tannins. In theory it may sound like partial retribution, but in reality it only adds to the wine's awkwardness.
X Being neither a juicy, plummy warm climate merlot that would appeal to a quaffer's tastes, nor a serious red to excite those with more 'distinguished' palates, Katnook's 2007 Founder's Block has found an undesirable middle ground. It's certainly a product of a difficult year on the red strip. Drink to 2013.