Is there anybody putting more effort into Merlot than Shannon Vineyards in Elgin? Five clones spread across 3ha of vineyard, each parcel vinified separately, maturation involving barriques from three different Bordeaux cooperages and lasting 20 months, 40% new, 30% second-fill, 20% third-fill and 10% fourth-fill.
The newly released 2013 shows black fruit, a hint of olive, a slight leafy quality and some attractive oak-derived character. The palate has good depth of flavour, fresh acidity and firm but fine tannins making for an austere finish. As ever, very carefully assembled and a crucial reference point when it comes to the debate about the prospects of the variety in the Cape. Approximate retail price: R325 a bottle.