Merlot is grown in just about every wine region of Australia; its fleshy, supple mid-palate makes it a good blending component and it is commonly blended with cabernet sauvignon. “Most of the merlot in the selection lacked definition and intensity and were short on the finish,” said Gregory. “The top five had nice aromas and good flavour, but lacked any real complexity.” Pritzker agreed: “This was by far the worst-performing bracket. Many merlots showed overripe cooked, dead fruit notes, or lacked any concentration and length. The best examples had good varietal typicity and balance.” The variation between the top two merlots and the rest were wide indeed, with judges describing the top-rated Taylors Estate 2008 as “juicy” and “mouthfilling” but those that did not score well as “astringent” or “metallic”. One of the judges thought the Cockfighter’s Ghost 2008 – the most expensive merlot on test tasted like “cooked blackberry jam with porty overtones”.