There is more and more exciting chatter about Merlot. In the winelands, a Merlot Interest Group is putting together plans to improve Merlot by using better clones and planting the vines in the right soils, in the right microclimates and perhaps even treating it differently once it is in the cellar.
Merlot is a noble grape which plays a major part in Bordeaux wine. As a blender in support of Cabernet Sauvignon on the left of the Gironde or as a leader in the blend on the right bank. Chateaux Cheval Blanc and Petrus are examples as Merlot led blends.
Merlot is a wonderful plummy soft wine, great by the glass and fabulous with food.
The vineyards from which the grapes for the Durbanville Hills Merlot 2015 are low lying and the soils are sufficiently water retentive to prevent stress on the vines. To cope with the constant breezes off the cold Benguela Current the leaf canopies of the vines are kept small which leads to better fruit flavours and structure in the eventual wine.
The grapes are hand harvested, they are taken to the cellar, destalked and crushed. A period of 24 hours of cold soaking takes place before spontaneous fermentation with vineyard yeasts takes place. Controlled pump overs took place before the wine was run off and malolactic fermentation took place.
12 months in mainly French oak barrels, a mix of new and formerly filled barrels and oak alternatives, has resulted in a wine gently infused with oak in support of the fabulous fruit. The wine was then prepared for bottling.
It looks like
Bottled under natural cork in a Bordeaux shaped bottle with the classical Durbanville Hills oval angular label. In the glass, it is an opaque dark ruby at the core which pales out to garnet at the rim.
It smells like
Ripe bloodplums, dark berries, sweet brown spices and snappy dark chocolate.
It tastes like
Medium bodied, with sweet red and black fruits on the palate. Full round mouthfeel with silken tannins, acidity and the oak all harmoniously interwoven in the long tail.
It’s good with
Merlot is well known and indeed loved as a glass of wine. It is usually soft, round and has upfront fruit, so appealing to many. It works really well with food, meat from the braai, the oven, a casserole or a platter of fine cheeses and charcuterie. Do chill it before serving it will add to the pleasure of drinking. Nadia Graves in her Dordogne Kitchen, just south of Bordeaux, offers her go-to recipe for Boeuf Bourguignon, the classic French red wine beef stew. Click here for her recipe.
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