Elgin Vintners Merlot 2019 among South Africa’s 10 best

The elegance and fruit purity derived from the unique cool climate of the Elgin Valley have earned Elgin Vintners Merlot 2019 a Top 10 ranking in the best of South African Merlot.

The results of the South African Merlot Forum’s inaugural Merlot Top 10 competition were announced earlier today (Wednesday, 22 June 2022), with Elgin Vintners Merlot 2019 the only winner from a cool-climate region.

Elgin Vintners winemaker and business manager Dr Marinda Kruger, the only female winemaker with a wine in the Top 10, said the award was recognition that the high-altitude mountain valley of Elgin, best known for Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir, was also an ideal location for producing Merlot of distinctive character and premium quality.

“I wholeheartedly believe that Elgin is the perfect terroir for Merlot, and that Elgin Vintners Merlot is a great ambassador for Merlot from our cool-climate region – and this award proves it,” she said.

Elgin Vintners Merlot 2019 has already received both local and international recognition, with 4 stars in the 2022 Platter’s South African Wine Guide, 90 points and a gold medal in the Gilbert and Gaillard guide, and 91 points from UK Master of Wine Tim Atkin in his 2021 South Africa Special Report.

Merlot is South Africa’s best-selling red wine varietal and the competition aimed to showcase the excellence of Cape Merlot, capable of standing on its own as a great wine with longevity and not only a blending partner. The competition is also an opportunity for wine producers to benchmark their wine styles and terroir expression against the best examples of Merlot.

Kruger said that the cool Elgin climate with moderate daytime temperatures cooling sharply in the evening allowed vines to re-energise overnight, favourable for good colour development in the grapes and a long, slow ripening period that concentrates flavours and ensures phenolic and tannin ripeness.

“As a result, we don’t need to overripen the grapes in the vineyard or over-extract in the winemaking process in order to obtain fruit concentration and avoid the unripe, green flavours that can be problematic in some warmer regions.

“Meticulous vineyard practices to ensure the bunches are exposed to just enough sunlight and harvested at optimal ripeness are complemented by whole berry fermentation and natural fermentation in the cellar to add complexity. Judicious use of oak ensures that we don’t overpower the beautiful fruit, that we have purity of fruit in balance with fine tannins, and that is what I believe makes this wine so special,” she said.

Elgin Vintners Merlot 2019 is deep, velvety ruby in colour with an opulent nose of red plums, cassis, walnuts and bramble boosted by a distinctive waft of violets. The fruit follows through onto the palate offering a red plum profile with an understated savoury and herby element on the back palate. A finely tuned acid and wood tannin balance, with clean fruit purity, deliver a seamless wine with excellent ageability.

Elgin Vintners Merlot 2019 is available direct from the cellar or online shop at https://elginvintners.co.za/buy-wine/, at R230, or in specialist wine retailers.