Pinotage gets a bum rap for hard tannins when it’s actually Merlot that can produce tannin monsters and minty ones, too. When the Oscar winning wine road movie Sideways hit the big screens back in 2004, US Merlot sales tanked 2% while Pinot Noir boomed 16% in the Western US thanks to the anti-Merlot riff of Miles, one of the characters. Sales have now stabilized and in SA there is plenty to chose from. Our choices:
Top Ten Terroir Merlots
1.) Arabella, 2011, Robertson
Sweet plums and cherries with some spicy mint.
2.) De Grendel, 2009, Durbanville
Cold tea and liver pâté sandwiches. Tobacco, vanilla and dried prunes. Mouth-filling, long lasting.
3.) Durbanville Hills Rhinofields, 2009, Durbanville
Red candied fruit and bell peppers. Judicious oaking. Elegant, young tannins, good acidity and sweet balance.
4.) Elgin Vintners, 2009, Elgin
Spicy savoury with a silky texture. A true treat.
5.) Kleinhoekkloof, 2008, Robertson
Marmite nose, good intensity, herbal mint and spicy oak.
6.) Saxenburg Private Collection, 2009, Stellenbosch
Salty minerality, liquorice and grilled peppers.
7.) Shannon Vineyards Mount Bullet, 2010, Elgin
Pétrus of the Overberg. World class. Ripe, spicy fruit turned up to the max. Big and booming with silky long finish.
8.) Thelema Reserve, 2009, Stellenbosch
Spicy sweet oak nose, creamy elegant palate, persistent, world class.
9.) Veenwouden, 2011, Paarl
Grassy and herbal, tangy red plums, rich and dense flavours.
10.) Yonder Hill, 2009, Stellenbosch
Elegant, persistent, minty cherries and plums.