Posts Tagged ‘Merlot’


Who is the Big Six in the wine world? Who is the Hale Berry of wine berries, the George Clooney of Grapes or the Naomi Watts of Wine?

Well in the wine drinking world, there is an A-list of grape varieties better know as The Noble Grapes.
These A-Listers are famous culturally and historically and are internationally known and grown, constantly producing quality wines year after year (that is if they are planted in the right type of soil, climate and “directed” by a capable wine maker).

Let’s look at the who’s-who of wine:

Sauvignon Blanc:
Known for its crisp, grassy, gooseberry and citrus flavours. Depending on the growing climate, Sauvigon Blanc can range from the really green, bone dry style to the vibrant tomato vine, gooseberries and green pepper style.
Some Sauvigons are blended with a small amount of Semillon to make the classic Bordeaux style whites while other Sauvignon Blancs are wood matured in French oak barrels to give a distinctive smokey character.

Some love Chardonnay, while others hate it, but no one can deny it. It is an easy growing vine that yields good quality fruit, which makes it a favourite with grape growers. It is also one of the three main varietals used in Champagne (or MCC, if you are in South Africa). It is a versatile grape and can produce a style of wine that’s fresh with lemony notes when it is unoaked or rich creamy style which can remind wine drinkers of buttered toast, almonds and honey.
Unfortunately there are other Chardonnays on the market that are so excessively wooded that the subtle fruit characters are overpowered and flavours and can be unappealing.

This varietal causes quite a bit of confusion in South Africa, because in the past wine drinkers could choose between wines labelled as Rhine Riesling, Weisser Riesling, Paarl Riesling or Cape Riesling.
Current legislation requires that the original Riesling varietal planted in South Africa can be labelled as Riesling where as the wines labelled as Cape Riesling is in fact Crouchen Blanc.
The good Rieslings that you will find can range from wines that are refreshing and racy with a steely acidity, while others can have a more lime and orange pith characters.

Cabernet Sauvignon:
Personified as a very “masculine” wine and is internationally admired. The trademarks of a good Cabernet Sauvignons are the deep dark red colour, the full-bodied character and taste of blackcurrant combined with a good tannin structure. Maturing the wine in oak barrels adds tobacco, cedar wood and chocolate characters which make the wine more complex.
Cabernet Sauvignon or predominantly Cabernet-led blends are the flagship of many wine producers.
Sadly, the poor Cab’s out there have stalky-green characteristics that are not appealing at all.

This is a super popular grape varietal with a large spectrum of wine drinkers. Described as a “feminine” wine, it is a little bit softer and rounder than Cabernet with juicier ripe berry flavours which makes it more approachable. For many wine drinkers, when faced with a choice of wine, Merlot is the go to varietal since it difficult to really get a “bad” one. Merlot also blends well with Cabernet making a good “marriage” between feminine and masculine grape types.

Pinot Noir:
Also known as the “heartbreak” grape, Pinot Noir is probably considered as the Holy Grail of wines. Notoriously temperamental, Pinot Noir can produce a wine that is ethereal, elegant and complex with layer and layer of flavours…
unfortunately Pinot Noir is like the French nouveau art film actors and hardly produces good wines outside its native Burgundy. Many new world wine growing areas tend to blunder Pinot Noir, resulting in a wine that seems disjointed with either too much fruit, hard tannins or just not enough body. Only in the cooler areas of South Africa, does Pinot Noir do well.
Pinot Noir is also one of the three grapes used in Champagne / MCC.

This is not to say that grape varietals like Chenin Blanc, Pinotage or Shiraz doesn’t make as good wine as the Noble Varietals, just that the wines listed are the internationally known.

Any excuse pulling the cork on a bottle of wine, eh?


Blog reposted from winewhiskers.co.za

Read Full Post »

Yes, its Friday and that mean that I need some Feedback!

Congratulations to Merlot_Girl who won a bottle of Dombeya Merlot 2007 for posting best comment on  the previous Feedback Friday competition Feedback Friday – Going East (AGAIN?).

CabrnetCasanova meet Merlot_Girl

Leave a funny caption to this photo below and you could be awarded the Wine-Crack of the week!

Go Holland! Hup Hup!

Read Full Post »


I was supposed to post a blog yesterday, but due to some bad news regarding the apartment I live in, I have lost all my inspiration to write. Even though my “muse” made me feel better, I could not conjure up a topic. So I went home in a rather depressing mood. 

Kind of like this... but with wine

Lo and behold, upon walking through the door, on my kitchen table was a bottle of Kaapzicht Merlot 2007… It was like walking in at the apartment with your girlfriend waiting for you in her lingerie… 

I undid the foil and popped the cork with much anticipation. The wine poured from the bottle into my glass, like a burgundy silk kimono being dropped slowly to the floor. Immediately my senses were filled with ripe fresh red berries with a hint of smokiness, like cherry tobacco,

Sorry kids

with its sweet and seductive perfume. Upon tasting the wine, cherries and ripe strawberries filled my mouth with a hint of liquorish and mint. The oak integration leaves you as if you were French kissed, wanting more… 

Recently I was fortunate enough to sit around a particulary long table with some top South African Winemakers, one of them being Danie Steytler from Kaapzicht Wine Estate. Danie mentioned that Merlot is a very “feminine” grape variety that has elegant soft round tones and light berry fruit. From what I have tasted I totally understand what he meant by that little number that “took me” in the kitchen. 

Merlot needs to be taken care of since it is a rather thin skinned grape and is prone to diseases like mildew and rot. Merlot is much more approachable than Cabernet Sauvignon’s  masculine character, which can be too hard, tannic and edgy. 

Why, hello....

Personally, I always thought that Merlot was too boring as a wine. Never really standing out, never really memorable, even though the Merlot is one of the most asked for wines per glass in restaurant. I would ask wine drinkers “Tell me what was the last Merlot that really knocked your socks off?” Normally the response would be “Ag-ja-no-well, you know?” Merlot tends to be one of those wines that pleases the palate, matches well with red meats but is easily forgotten. 

Well, what I will have to say is that there are quite a few “boring” Merlots out there on the market. So go out and look for her, because when you get  a good bottle of Merlot… boy are you in for a surprise!

Read Full Post »