For dinner, the first Thelema Merlot 1994 from a twelve-bottle case kept in perfect storage conditions since release. Actually, the second bottle as the first was corked – thank you, Portugal.
Can SA make great Merlot? Stellenbosch property Thelema is one of the foremost practitioners of the variety in the modern era and how interesting to revisit this wine 17 years from vintage. In a word, classically styled. On the nose, red fruit, black olive, dusty oak and some earthiness. The palate is medium bodied with fresh acidity and fine tannins. Plenty of the interesting savoury character that comes with development but primary fruit still remarkably intact. Alcohol by volume a modest 13%. Fine and serious and a far cry from the big, rich, soft wines which pass as ultra-premium Merlot currently. Score: 16.5/20.