Durbanville Hills Collector’s Reserve, The Lighthouse Merlot 2017. Roberta Muir’s Steak Diane, a real French classic & so easy to make, is a perfect partner…

Durbanville Hills Collector’s Reserve, The Lighthouse Merlot 2017

Durbanville Hills Winery is a collective of 9 different wine grape producers in the valley and Distell. The Durbanville Wine Ward might be small, but it is filled with geographical and climatic advantages. Cool, cool weather, lovely breezes off the chill Benguela Current which runs up the West Coast from the Deep Cold Atlantic Ocean. The Collector’s Reserve is a range of premium wines, using the finest of grapes from their producer’s vineyards. Martin Moore, founding Cellarmaster of the Winery and Wilhelm Coetzee, the Red Wine Maker. Prominent landmarks in Cape Town have been chosen as images for the wines. Theo Vorster, well known Cape Town Artist has designed the labels. The Lighthouse in Mouille Point is the site chosen for the name of the Durbanville Hills Collector’s Reserve, The Lighthouse Merlot 2017.

Merlot grapes ripening on the vine

The grapes for the Durbanville Hills Collector’s Reserve, The Lighthouse Merlot 2017 came from two vineyards, one a large north facing 18-year-old vineyard, the other a south facing deep Hutton soil block on the western side of the valley. This block – producing strong mulberry flavours ripens evenly which is a great advantage when it comes to picking time. I found it truly interesting that in the bigger block, the winery used a program “Fruitlook”, using multispectral satellite imagery supplying weekly with a normalised difference vegetation index. They used these images to identify differences in the vineyard canopy and assess the quality to find the best spots.

Durbanville Hills Red Winemaker, Wilhelm Coetzee

The grapes were hand-picked in 500kg fruit bins and handled with minimum intervention. De-stemming took place over a sorting table into 1 ton and 15-ton fermenters. The must was left overnight and drained of 10 – 15% of its juice to concentrate body, flavour and aroma compounds on the final product. This is known as saignée or ‘bleeding’ which means a higher ration of skin to juice, ending in a more complex wine. The bled juice is used to make Rosé. The fermentation was started with a preferred yeast strain. Continuous timer- regulated pump-over cycles, in combination with compressed air and regular manual punch downs on the smaller bins, were used to extract maximum fruit, tannin and colour. The wine was matured in a combination of new and second fill extra tight grained French oak barrels for 14 months before being prepared for bottling.

Martin Moore, Founding Winemaker of Durbanville Hills

From a Bordeaux shaped bottle, closed under natural cork. The label has Theo Vorster’s lovely design. In the glass, the wine is a deep bloodplum at the heat which pales out to ruby at the edges. The aromas are of bright fruit, berries, plums and cherries. The palate is generous from entry, reflecting the fruits again with an undertow of dark chocolate and whiff of cherry tobacco. Oak and its concomitant spice and vanilla are wrapped around fine tannins in the long and gently waning aftertaste. This wine is in a perfect position to be cool cellared for a couple of years to reward you later.

Roberta Muir’s Steak Diane

Chill the wine for about 30 minutes before serving, it will enhance the pleasure of the Durbanville Hills Collector’s Reserve, The Lighthouse Merlot 2017. Very much a food wine, it will go well with food off the braai, like a spicy boerewors, a warming bredie or Roberta Muir’s Steak Diane, a real French classic and so easy to make. Click HERE for her recipe.

Roberta Muir

Roberta Muir has managed Sydney Seafood School, Australia’s largest recreational cooking school, since 1997. She holds a Master of Arts degree in Gastronomy from the University of Adelaide and is a qualified sherry educator and cheese judge. She is the author of the Sydney Seafood School Cookbook (Penguin/Lantern, 2012) and 500 Cheeses (Quintet, 2010). Her passion for food, wine and foreign cultures has led her on adventures in Europe, Africa, the Middle East, North America, Scandinavia and South East and Central Asia. In her spare time, she reviews restaurants, writes freelance food, wine and travel articles, is a keen cook and an enthusiastic diner. She lives in Sydney with her husband, photographer and fellow foodlover, Franz Scheurer. Do visit her website –

Listen to my 60 second podcast – CLICK THE RED ARROW 

Read more about Durbanville Hills Winery – CLICK HERE

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