Crush 100 South African Wines to drink now, #29 De Grendel Merlot 2017…

De Grendel Merlot 2017

The 2017 was the second last harvest before the end of the worst drought in living memory was broken just after the 2018 summer. Hot and dry weather, coolish nights and a touch of rain in December 2016 all created the ideal conditions for an excellent crop. The vineyards are planted on Hutton Oak Leaf soils and are exposed to the cooling breezes off the Benguela Current which sweeps up our west coast from the deep cold South Atlantic Ocean.

Merlot ripening on the vine

The grapes for the De Grendel Merlot 2017 were hand harvested and brought to the cellar for Charles Hopkins and his team to destem and crush the grapes. The wine was fermented in stainless steel tanks with regular aerated pump overs taking place four times a day. This leads to gentle extraction of colour, flavour and soft tannins. Once fermentation was over, the mash was pressed and the wine taken to 1/3 new French Oak Barrels, 1/3 in second fill and 1/3 in third fill for 13 months. After this it was prepared for bottling.

Kudzai Mwerenga, De Grendel’s Vineyardist

Pour
From a Bordeaux shaped bottle, closed with a premium screw cap. The label is classic simple elegant De Grendel. In the glass, the wine is brightshining plum in colour which pales out to the edges. The aromas are of red berries, cherries, plum and pencil sharpenings. The palate is full and generous from entry with its thread of refreshing acidity running through to the long and satisfying aftertaste. Red fruit again, roadside fennel seeds, and the oak and its concomitant spice and vanilla. Will improve with cool cellaring over a couple of years.

Ian Bergh’s Steps to Shepherd’s Pie

Pair
Ian Bergh, the Executive Chef at De Grendel Restaurant offers his Shepherd’s Pie as the perfect dish to accompany the De Grendel Merlot 2017. Shepherd’s Pie is lamb, while Cottage pie is beef.

Ian Bergh’s Shepherd’s Pie

Shepherd’s pie, also known as cottage pie, is a ground meat pie with a crust or topping of mashed potato. The recipe has many variations, but the defining ingredients are ground red meat cooked in a gravy or sauce with onions and topped with a layer of mashed potato before it is baked. Sometimes other vegetables are added to the filling, such as peas, celery or carrots. The pie is sometimes also gratinated with grated cheese to create a layer of melted cheese on top.

Ian Bergh, the chef at De Grendel Restaurant

Ingredients (For the filling)
500g lamb or beef mince
1 large onion, chopped
2 large carrots, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tbsp coriander seeds, crushed
1 tbsp rosemary, chopped
1 tbsp thyme, chopped
1 cup corn kernels
1 cup peas
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 cups chicken stock
1 ½ cup white wine
Salt and pepper to taste

Ingredients (For the mashed potatoes)
3 large potatoes, peeled, diced
2 tsp salt
150ml milk
2 thick slices butter
½ cup Parmesan cheese, grated

Ian Bergh’s Shepherd’s Pie – baked

Method
Heat a large frying pan over a medium heat, add a splash of olive oil, add the mince, crushed coriander seeds, salt and crushed black pepper and fry until browned. Remove mince mixture from the pan and set aside.

Add a generous splash of olive oil to the same frying pan then add the onions, carrots, garlic, thyme, and rosemary and gently cook for 5 minutes.

Add the cooked mince back in and stir in the tomato paste, wine, and stock. Cook over medium heat to reduce until almost cooked down.

Stir in the peas and corn, remove from the heat, check seasoning, and add a bit more if necessary, then set aside.

Add the potatoes to a medium-sized pot, cover with water, add 2 tsp salt, and cook over a medium heat until potatoes are tender and cooked. Strain well, return the potatoes to the pot, add the butter and milk and mash until fluffy. Add seasoning to taste. Set aside and keep warm.

Preheat your oven to 180°C. Add the cooked mince mixture to a greased ovenproof dish, evenly spread the mashed potato over, sprinkle with Parmesan and bake for about 30 to 40 minutes or until golden brown. Serve with a green salad.

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