I remember attending a function a while back when Hartenberg winemaker, Carl Shultz, won the Diners Club “Winemaker of the Year” award for the very fine 2004 Estate Merlot. Hartenberg Merlot 2005 was awarded the Trophy for Best Merlot in the World at the 2008 International Wine & Spirits Competition in London. The current vintage is the Hartenberg Merlot 2016.
Hartenberg has a long history of the production of fine wines during the current and previous two owners. The 187 hectares of vineyard are tended by Wilhelm Joubert, the Estate’s Viticulturist who provides fine grapes for Carl and his team to turn into the Estate’s Award-Winning Wines. In 2016, at the heat of the worst drought in living memory, the Hartenberg Merlot vines were given a midsummer harvest at veraison to ensure evenly ripe fruit. Picking was decided by tasting, thereby ensuring optimal ripeness. All grapes were hand-picked, and bunch sorted in the vineyard. They were taken to the cellar where they were, de-stemmed and lightly crushed. The grapes were cold-soaked and then inoculated with French-sourced yeast. Fermentation took place with daily pump overs. Extended post fermentation maceration took place. This was followed by fractional pressing, the wine being settled out as clear a possible. After settling, the wine went to French oak for malo-lactic fermentation and then further oak maturation. The Hartenberg Merlot 2016 had 18 months maturation in French oak barrels of which 45% were new, 40% were 2nd fill, the balance in older previously filled French oak barrels. The wine was then prepared for bottling.
From a classical Bordeaux shaped bottle under natural cork. The label is in the elegant Hartenberg tradition with an etching of the Manor House as a centrepiece. In the glass, the wine at the heart is a deep bloodplum red which pales out to a translucent ruby at the edges. The aromas are exactly what one expects from a fine Merlot. Red berries, cranberries, soft dried plums and a fynbos herbaceousness. The palate is generous with red fruits, cashmere clad tannins all interwoven with the acidity and oak spice in perfect harmony going through to a long and lasting tail. The wine will mature well if cool cellared for anything up t0 10 to 15 years from the year of harvest.
You will derive extra pleasure if you chill the Hartenberg Merlot 2016 for about 30 minutes either in the fridge or in an ice bucket before serving. It is a perfect wine on its own. Soft and round and a most requested variety as a wine by the glass in restaurants. It is perfect with food and the summery Sophia Lindop’s Seared Duck Breast Salad meets its match with the Hartenberg Merlot 2016.
Sophia Lindop’s Seared Duck Breast Salad
Serves 2 to 4
2 duck breasts
2 tsp Chinese five spice
salt to season
6 baby pak choi, cut in half lengthways
50 g baby butter lettuce
100 g mung bean sprouts
1 mango, peeled and sliced
3 spring onions, finely sliced
75 g pomegranate arils
20 ml sesame oil
30 ml olive oil
20 ml honey
salt and freshly milled black pepper
juice of ½ a lime
50 g cashew nuts, roasted and salted
a few sprigs fresh coriander
Thinly score the fat on the duck breasts. Rub the five spice into the breasts and set aside for 10 minutes.
Place in a medium-hot frying pan, fat side down, and allow the fat to cook out of the skin. Fry until golden brown and then turn, allowing the other side to cook for a further 5 minutes in the rendered fat. Remove from the heat, season with salt and allow to cool and rest.
Steam the pak choi for 5 to 10 minutes until al dente. Place under cold running water to cool and drain on paper towel.
Place the pak choi, lettuce, sprouts, mango, spring onion and pomegranate arils in a large bowl.
Mix all the dressing ingredients together and drizzle over the salad. Toss well and arrange on a serving platter.
Slice the duck breasts into thin slices. Top the salad with the duck slices and finish off with the cashew nuts and coriander.
Serve at room temperature.
Read more about Hartenberg Estate – CLICK HERE