You may notice that South African wines are starting to take up more real estate on the liquor store shelves. Once relegated to the back corner, sharing a space with the 'odd' wine producing countries like Slovenia, Isreal or Uruguay, now they are commanding a bit more attention. Their growing popularity and market share are in part due to the increase in quality and increase in the marketing of the South African region as a whole. There is great value to be found here, so don't be surprised if this affordable gem starts you on a hunt for more South African wines.
Merlot is produced in good quantities in South Africa, with only Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Pinotage having more vines planted. However, it is less common to see Merlot bottled as a single varietal in South Africa, it is more often than not blended with other grapes. In the Coastal region is where you will find the most Merlot, and see some of the best representations.
Over 90% of the wines produced in South Africa are from the Western Cape, which is broken down into regions, then districts, and again into smaller wards. The Coastal Region is home to the Stellenbosch district, which to most, is the epicentre of South African wine. Generally, Stellenbosch has a Mediterranean climate, but the valleys, aspects and soil variation contribute to many micro-climates and produce unique styles of wine. Enjoy within 2019 and serve at proper room temperature, 18 C.
Medium opacity, cherry red in colour.
A perfumed nose that shows multiple layers and complexity, from fruit to mineral. There are strong notes of crushed rose petal and over-ripe red cherry, even a sweeter confectioned note of Maraschino cherry. Tar, charcoal and green tobacco leaf add complexity with an earthy, herbal and rustic appeal.
Grilled cherries, burnt sugar and cooked vanilla bean give a warm and sweet quality to the fruit flavours. There are also black raspberry and black plums that add richness and more depth of berry fruits. The tannins are slightly sticky and linger, drying on the gums. Moderate acidity allows the rugged notes to brighten slightly. The finish lingers with more scorched earth and charcoal.
A rich Merlot that can be partnered with sauces, game meats and more profound flavours. Try rabbit or lamb slow cooked in a stew or braised, with hearty root vegetables.
Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Shiraz, Malbec
Retail: $44.99 Club: $35.49
Cabernet Franc, Merlot
Okanagan Falls, British Columbia
Retail: $19.99 Club: $16.49