The months of October, November and December 2016 were windier than normal, as was January 2017. This had a significant cooling effect on the ripening fruit. In addition the wind kept disease pressure low. The lack of cloud cover during the evenings made for cooler night time temperatures and the associated retention of acid in grapes. Light rainfalls in December and January alleviated plant water stress and allowed the vines to function normally in an otherwise stressful environment on the back end of the drought.
All these conditions conspired to provide healthy grapes with firm structure and good acidity. For the first time the Faithful Hound blend has Merlot as the lead variety, just a few percent more than Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. The nose is full of brooding, earthy aromas. Brambles, cocoa, forest floor. It clearly shows the Merlot contribution in the muted aromas compared to a more Cabernet dominant blend.
Finely textured tannins and savoury flavours such as cured ham and dried porcini mark the palate. The 2017 is a wine of nuance rather than outright power. There’s plenty of depth of flavour, and the palate unfolds evenly, revealing a well balanced, moreish blend. Given the quality of the vintage and the provenance of the fruit, this is definitely a vintage that will reward further cellaring.