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.
FEATURED WINES IN THIS REVIEW
Durbanville Hills Durbanville Pinotage 2011Pinotage from South AfricaReview Date : 28-Nov-2013Very dark, deep, purple-hued ruby-red colour, youthful in appearance. The nose is softly full with restrained aromas of ripe black berry fruits, boysenberries and jammy whole berry elements. Medium-full bodied, sweetly ripe fruit flavours of dark raspberries and boysenberry jam form a moderately deep core with resinous oak nuances. The palate has noticeable alcohol power, drive and warmth underlining the fruit, and light, but firm tannins adding to the linearity. The acidity is soft, enabling the fruit to open and fill the palate, and the flavours are carried by the alcohol to a long, juicy finish. This is a ripe, sweet-fruited, jam-nuanced Pinotage with soft mouthfeel and alcohol drive. Match with barbecued, grilled and slow-cooked red meat dishes over the next 4+ years. Fermented to 14.0% alc., the wine was aged 12 months in predominantly French oak with a small portion new. 17.0+/20 Nov 2013 RRP $13.99
Plaisir de Merle Paarl Merlot 2011Merlot from South AfricaReview Date : 28-Nov-2013Hand-picked fruit from 3 sites from the estate’s 80 ha of Merlot, fermented to 14.03% alc., the wine aged 12-16 months in 55% new French oak barrels. Very full, near saturated black-hued purple-red colour, youthful in appearance. This has a very refined and intense bouquet of ripe blackcurrant and black plum fruit aromas with a leafy, minty note and sweet, lifted oak elements that emerge in the glass. Medium-full bodied, elegantly concentrated and intense flavours of rich and succulent black plums and blackcurrants are supported by very fine-grained tannin structure. Oaking is sensitive, adding a lifted and sweet layer. The palate is classically proportioned with excellent underlying acidity providing vitality and freshness to the mouthfeel and enriching the fruit. The flavours flow to a stylish and sustained finish with powdery tannin line and real length. This is an elegant, classical Bordeaux-styled Merlot with concentration and finesse. Serve with roast lamb and hard cheeses over the next 8-10+ years. 3,000 cases made. 18.5+/20 Nov 2013 RRP $29.00