As the pendulum swings for Merlot bringing it right back into favour, I remember the producers who were producing fine Merlot from way back. Glen Carlou being one of them. Merlot is I believe, the most drunk red wine in South Africa. Named in the Occitan tongue after a blackbird, whose name is merle, Merlot is thought to be a diminutive, meaning little blackbird. Because the grapes are the colour of the blackbird, or because it is fond of the grapes? Who knows.
The grapes for the Glen Carlou Merlot 2016 are planted on the east facing slopes of the iconic Simonsberg, in alluvial soils, in the Paarl Wine Appellation. These offer good drainage and produce small berried bunches which give wonderful intense fruit. Once harvested and brought to the cellar, winemaker Johnnie Calitz and his team destalk and crush the grapes and take them to stainless steel tanks for fermentation. Pump overs took place 3 to 4 times a day during fermentation. After this process, the skins lay in the wine macerating for 2 weeks. After pressing the wine was taken to a mix of 30% third fill 225 litre French oak barrels and 70% 6000 litre French oak vats for a period of 15 months.
From a Bordeaux shaped bottle under natural cork. The label is a rather stunning blue in two parts. In the glass, the wine is a deep opaque almost black plum which pales out to ruby at the edges. The soft and fleshy Merlot grape gives aromas of berries, mulberries and roadside brambles. Crème de Cassis in undertow. The palate is medium to full in weight and generous from entry through to the long and gently waning aftertaste which is interwoven with cashmere clad tannins, the well applied oak and its concomitant spices, touches of good dark chocolate. And a farewell note of mint or eucalyptus.
At the Estate, Johan Stander, the Head Chef of the excellent Glen Carlou Restaurant, has numerous offering to match with Glen Carlou wines. Do visit if you have not been, the views are spectacular, the food and wine sublime. I find that to pop the Glen Carlou Merlot 2016 into an ice bucket for 30 minutes, particularly in summer just adds to the enjoyment. Nina Timm’s Risoni – Baked with the simple flavours of the Mediterranean, makes a great partner for a mid-week supper. Click here for her recipe.
Nina Timm of myeasycooking.com
Read more about Glen Carlou – CLICK HERE