This was maiden vintage of an ultra-premium Merlot made exclusively for Alan Pick of the Johannesburg restaurant Butcher Shop and Grill. If Pinotage used to be South Africa’s weakest red wine category ten years ago, it’s now Merlot but this wine proves it can be done.
Red and black fruit and, yes, snuff on the nose. The palate was medium- to full-bodied with fresh acidity and fine tannins before a savoury, almost sanguine finish. More Stellenbosch than St Emillion but that’s not to damn it with faint praise. Score: 17/20.
Interestingly, grapes are from the same block utilised for the production of Hartenberg’s flagship Bordeaux-style red The Mackenzie, which gives credence to the argument that South Africa’s best Merlot is typically blended away.