2011 Durbanville Hills Pinotage and Plaisir de Merle Merlot

A new wave of wines for the modern world is being made in South Africa. Two decades after isolation, the results of revigorated viticulture and winemaking are showing in the quality of the wines. Parallel to the technical development have been the philosophical and cultural advances in the winemaking community and the greater integration of the country’s society as a whole. Many in the South African industry realise the importance of how they can increase the standards of living, not only of the workers and staff, but the country by improving profitability and trading in a global sense. Along with this have been steps to focus on sustainability and environmental issues, which are indeed topics that are deemed crucial throughout the winemaking world.

The Durbanville Hills wine operation is situated in the coastal influenced Durbanville district just out of Cape Town and was established by 7 grape farmers who joined together in 1990 under the Distell umbrella to make their own wine. There are now 9 member farms. The company operates workers’ trust which has programmes for the benefit of the employees. The modern winery has a capacity of 8,000 tonnes and is under the care of winemaker Martin Moore. Durbanville Hills has a strong reputation for the cooler-climate styles and varieties. www.durbanvillehills.co.za

The Plaisir de Merle wine estate and its Manor House have their origins in Charles Marais’ arrival in the Cape in1687, but the modern estate was opened in 1993. Situated on the slopes of Simonsberg Mountain in the Paarl district, the classical, terroir-expressive wines from 400 ha of vines are made by Niel Bester, winemaker from the start. The estate comes under the Distell wine group. www.plaisirdemerle.co.za

Here, I review two reds, one each from Durbanville Hills and Paisir de Merle, both from the warm, dry and early 2011 vintage, showing the modern face of South Africa’s quality wine scene.


  • Durbanville Hills Durbanville Pinotage 2011
  • Plaisir de Merle Paarl Merlot 2011

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