Achieving decent Merlot under local conditions is tricky, but if anyone’s got a handle on it, then it’s Carl Schultz of Hartenberg in Stellenbosch. He won the 2005 Diners Club Winemaker of the Year Award with his 2004 and the 2009 (R125 a bottle) is another fine offering.
Whereas some of the Hartenberg reds are quite formidable in terms of weight and power, this is nicely medium bodied, fresh and savoury. I found flavours of red fruit, black olives and some spice. It spent 17 months in French oak, 70% new which suggests this wine is not exactly intended for casual quaffing but the oak is well integrated. Reason not to despair of the category completely.