Delaire Graff Estate Banghoek Reserve Merlot 2018 – one of my superb Banghoek Valley Merlots

The Stellenbosch Wine Appellation is known for producing fine Cabernet Sauvignon Wines. Its fellow Bordeaux wine, Merlot, has been used very successfully as a blender in the so-called Bordeaux Style Blends. With renewed interest in the wine, better vineyard sites, more care in the cellar, and a keenness from a number of producers who have founded the Hallo Merlot Forum, we are more than ready to celebrate International Merlot Day on 9th November. Here are two of my current favourite Banghoek Valley Merlots.

Morne Vrey – Cape Wine Makers Guild

Morné Vrey elevated the Delaire Graff Estate Banghoek Reserve Merlot 2018 with great care and his usual fine attention to detail. The grapes were not crushed to be sure of the gentle extraction of the fruit and tannins. Punch downs took place during fermentation. The wine spent 18 months in French Oak Barrels, of which 80% were new.

Merlot was the old French name for a blackbird

This premium wine is packed in a Bordeaux shaped bottle and closed with natural cork. The label is white and elegant. In the glass, the wine is a deep opaque bloodplum at the heart which pales out toward the edges. The aromas and palate segue one into the other. Classical Merlot aromas of dark berries and plums which follow on to the palate with a lovely line of acidity, and silken smooth tannins. A truly impressive glass.

The Delaire Graff Lodges
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Oldenburg Vineyard Series Merlot 2018

Oldenburg Vineyard is on the base of the Banghoek Valley, surrounded by the most magnificent mountains. In the middle of the Estate is Rondekop, a little ferricrete hillock, dwarfed by its Alpine surroundings.

Nic van Aarde, Oldenburg Winemaker

Nic van Aarde, the Oldenburg Winemaker, has polished this wine perfectly. The grapes were cold soaked for 3 days pre-fermentation. Pump overs for gentle extraction of colour, flavour and tannins. The wine spent 18 months in 300 litre French Oak Barrels of which 14% were new. Excellent consistency over several vintages.

Merlot Grapes ripening on the vine


From a Bordeaux shaped bottle, closed with natural cork. The label is elegant and explores the confluence of the 8 Natural Elements that determine the unique terroir of the Estate. In the glass, the wine is a deep bloodplum at the heart which pales out towards the edges. Berries, plums, florals like jasmine and violets, and crushed green Madagascan peppercorns are found on the nose. The palate has the country lane fruits, brambles, mulberries and fraises des bois. Gentle tannins and crushed tomato leaves finish off the wine with a long and satisfying aftertaste.

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Dianne Bibby’s Buttery Soft Wagyu Fillet

These wines need a good tranche of red meat, out of the pan, or off the grill. Dianne Bibby’s Buttery Soft Wagyu Fillet is the perfect partner. Click HERE for her recipe.

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