Winemag Merlot Report showcases five ‘excellent’ expressions but…

THE 2017 Winemag Report on SA Merlot involved the assessment of 67 wines from 50 producers and culminated in five wines rated 90-plus (see below). Published in association with the industry’s producer body that goes by the name of the Merlot Forum, the full report posted on states that: “Local Merlot often makes for less ambitious and less expensive wines than either straight Cab or Bordeaux-style red blends.”

According to Winemag editor Christian Eedes: “The most basic wines were, at best, light and fresh, and at worst, sweet and simple. There is probably a place for such fare in the marketplace, presuming that they don’t breach R100 a bottle. However,” he says, “it must be asked if varieties such as Cinsaut or Pinotage are not destined to perform a better job when it comes to providing affordable everyday drinking?” The answer to this question could well be ‘yes’, speaking generally in terms of the South African scenario, although one of the top-scoring wines reviewed on this occasion was an ‘organic’ Org de Rac from outside Piketberg in the Swartland at just R64 a bottle.

The judging was conducted ‘blind’, the ratings awarded according to a 100-point system. The panel comprising Eedes (chairman) with the Wine Cellar’s Roland Peens and James Pietersen regarded many SA Merlots to be ‘very good’ and found five to be ‘excellent’, but none of the submissions cracked the nod when it came to ‘extraordinary’ or ‘outstanding’.


Boschendal ‘1685’ Merlot 2015 – R100 pb at Franschhoek Cellar

Delaire Graff Merlot 2014 – R295 pb at Stellenbosch Cellar

Lourensford Limited Release Merlot 2015 – R300 pb at Somerset West Cellar

Org de Rac Organic Merlot 2015 – R64 pb at Swartland Cellar

Shannon Woolworths Merlot 2015 – R160 pb at Woolworths (Elgin Producer)

For all of the top-rated Merlots reviewed during the past two years, click here. For the SA Merlot Classification, click here.

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