Kirby Estate 2020 Signature Merlot Shines in "The Most Thrilling Niagara Wines of 2023"

The wine world is abuzz with the latest accolades from "The Most Thrilling Niagara Wines of 2023," and amongst the shining stars is Kirby Estate's 2020 Signature Merlot. This recognition places the vineyard on a prestigious platform, showcasing the best of Niagara's wine offerings.

The Prestigious List and Its Winners:

Curated by renowned wine critic Rick VanSickle, this list celebrates the exceptional wines of the Niagara region. The 2023 edition saw a diverse range of wines, each distinguished in its category. Highlighting both white and red wines, the list included standouts like the Dobbin Estate Riesling 2019 and the Stratus White Label Red 2020. These wines, alongside others, were praised for their exemplary representation of Niagara's terroir and winemaking prowess.

Kirby Estate's 2020 Signature Merlot: A Benchmark for Excellence:

Amidst this illustrious lineup, Kirby Estate's 2020 Signature Merlot garnered significant attention. Rick VanSickle described it as "a blockbuster, maybe the finest 100% Merlot I have tasted from Niagara," awarding it an impressive 95 points. Made from 16-year-old grapes and aged for 20 months in a mix of new and neutral French oak barrels, this Merlot stands as a testament to Kirby Estate's dedication to quality and flavour excellence.

The full article can be view here, below is rick VanSickle’s review of the Kirby Estate Signature Merlot:

Kirby Estate Merlot Signature 2020 ($108, 95 points) — Simply stated, this “signature” level Merlot is a blockbuster, maybe the finest 100% Merlot I have tasted from Niagara. It’s made from 16-year-old grapes planted on the property, wild fermented and aged for 20 months in 55% new French oak and the rest in neutral barrels. The wine is bottled unfiltered, and the wine is finished at 15.7% abv (though winemaker Gamble says it’s more like 15% abv), that doesn’t feel like it at all. Such a beguiling and perfumed nose of meaty, ripe, and seductive red berries, plum pudding, figs, sweet tobacco, cloves, elegant oak spices, and sandalwood nuances. It is mouth-filling, rich, and layered with a silky texture, ripe tannins supporting a complex array of ripe/brambly red berries, anise, plums, truffles, subtle pepper, and lovely spice notes that are integrated and elegant. It’s surprisingly balanced through an incredibly long and finessed finish with little indication of the stated abv. What a beautiful Merlot that takes its inspiration from the top wines of Pomerol. To quote a certain president: “And that’s no joke!” This can easily cellar for 10 or more years.
The thrill factor: Fledgling vineyard and brand owners, Scott and Maria Kirby, were drawn to the region in 2017 by the “idyllic beauty, pastoral environs, and favourable climate.” They were eager to showcase their wines over two years ago, but Mother Nature threw a few obstacles in their way, requiring a partial vineyard replanting and an opportunity to plant grapes that align with what the couple likes to drink. They looked to Gamble and Sperling for consultation and began selling their wines this year with Matt Smith as the winemaker. The Kirbys are part of a new wave of vignerons willing to spend enough money to grow the right grapes in the right places in tiny quantities at the highest levels. If the debut releases are any indication, it’s a strategy well worth pursuing. By the way, I tasted this wine side-by-side and blind with iconic Chilean wine Purple Angel from Viña Montes, both 2020s, just a few days ago. The Kirby stood out as a clear winner.

The recognition of Kirby Estate's 2020 Signature Merlot in "The Most Thrilling Niagara Wines of 2023" is a milestone for the vineyard. It highlights the exceptional quality of wines being produced in the Niagara region and places Kirby Estate as a noteworthy contributor to this legacy. Wine enthusiasts and critics alike can look forward to future offerings from Kirby Estate, anticipating more of the exceptional craftsmanship that this vineyard has become known for.