The other day we tasted the full range of Meerlust Estate wines.
Long recognized for producing world-class wines, Meerlust Estate has been in the Myburgh family since 1756. Today, winemaking continues under the guidance of Hannes Myburgh, eighth generation custodian of this seventeenth-century national monument.
Meerlust, with its historic manor house, classic wine cellar, family cemetery, dovecote and bird sanctuary is situated fifteen kilometers south of Stellenbosch, with the blue crescent of False Bay a mere five kilometers away.
Meerlust is the first South African winery to produce a Bordeaux blend (Rubicon in the 1980s) and to install a distilling plant to make Grappa under the then winemaker Giorgio della Chia.
Wines are made only from grapes grown on the 200 ha vineyards of the estate where the soils consist of predominantly deep, well drained Hutton and Clovelly soil types, affording the vines excellent drought resistance. Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot are cultivated. Vineyards are irrigated, fruit is hand harvested in the early mornings, sorted and partially de-stemmed. Half the must is fermented with inoculated yeasts and ageing is in French Oak hogsheads.
The following wines were tasted:
- Meerlust Estate Chardonnay 2015 – One of the best Chardonnays from South Africa (17)
- Meerlust Estate Chardonnay 1995 – The first vintage of Meerlust Chardonnay brought back from a visit to the estate in 1997. Slightly oxidised
- Meerlust Estate Red 2013 – Served with supper. An excellent red for under £10 (16)
- Meerlust Estate Pinot Noir 2015 – Aromatic but rather thin and ordinary. (16)
- Meerlust Estate Merlot 2014
- – Slightly green but plenty of scope. Will be very good in a few years (16.5)
- Meerlust Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 – Excellent red from free run juice. Already soft and very approachable. (17.5)
- Meerlust Rubicon en magnum 2012 – Classic Bordeaux blend with lovely fruit and poise. Still slightly tannic but will be great in a few years (18)
Discussion focused on the roll of technical data in assessing potential of a wine, whole bunch fermentation, importance of fermentation temperature, pH and the roll of size of oak barrels and the type of oak used in maturing wine.
Colinas de Uruguay Albarino 2016 was tasted blind on arrival. The tasting was followed by a two course supper (Lamb shank with mint and redcurrant sauce, White chocolate and apricot bread and butter pudding). 28 members of the Harrogate Medical Wine Society and a guest from Germany participated. The event was held at the Masonic Hall in Harrogate. Meerlust publicity material was supplied by the estates UK agent Maisons Marques et Domaines Limited.
- “Sorry for the delay in writing – have had an incredibly busy week dominated by music. Just wanted to say how much I enjoyed the Meerlust tasting last week. As ever the quality of presentation and the detail were impeccable. A great bit of prepping for our trip to South Africa. Thought all the wines were good – and the Rubicon was particularly impressive. Many thanks – a shame that holidays mean we will be missing the next couple of events.” – Robert Buckley, Leeds
“Ann & I greatly enjoyed the Meerlust tasting, the house has always produced fine wines since replanting some 45 years ago. It was good to see the fine Dutch house in your photos, great memories. The Chardonnay and Rubicon were our favoured wines, being in their drinking window. The others offer much for some years ahead. Again may thanks for a memorable evening, great wines, good company and many good memories of our visits to Africa.” Dr. Stephen Cameron, Pick Hill
- “We enjoyed the tasting and our two favourite wines were the Chardonnay and the Rubicon. We thought the mystery wine was rather good, we have never tasted an Uruguayan Albariño before so thank you for introducing this wine to us.” – Peter Murphy, Ackworth
- “A great tasting once again and thank you for your insight – you clearly research your subject.” – Ian Bexon, Harrogate
- “Thank you for another most enjoyable evening. As ever, your presentation was both lively and enlightening – no mean feat! For me, the star of the tasting was the chardonnay.” – Gail Bent, Harrogate
- “Thanks for a splendid tasting last night. It was a particular privilege to taste the 22 year old Chardonnay. Given the age and storage conditions it had a suprising level of complexity, which more than compensated for the mild oxidation. The Rubicon was even better than I remember it tasting 10 or so years ago.” – Ian Botwright, Ripon
- “I thoroughly enjoyed the Meerlust tasting. Strangely for me I really liked the Chardonnay best but this was closely followed by the Rubicon. I thought the others a bit young and I’m not sure that keeping them would be altogether rewarding. The meal, as ever, was lovely. Thank you.” – Rhiannon Owen, Huddersfield