A taste of history at Plaisir de Merle

Thursday, 19 December, 2013
Plaisir de Merle
The 1st of December is a historic day for the farm Plaisir de Merle, set on the scenic Simonsberg Mountains between Paarl and Franschhoek. Not only was the modern cellar completed on this day twenty years ago in 1993, but it is exactly 320 years since the land was granted to French Huguenot Charles Marais by Governor of the Cape, Simon van der Stel
The Manor House revels in this history too. Lovingly restored and dating back to 1764, it’s the ideal venue for an intimate wedding, bespoke conference or special function. Its eclectic elegance has comfort at its core and can sleep eight guests.

The continuation of this historical legacy is of great importance to the people behind Plaisir de Merle. With its consistent wine quality and timelessly stylish packaging it sits firmly positioned as a big hitter in the wine world; while its membership of the WWF Biodiversity & Wine Initiative means the awareness of conservation for the future is taken seriously too.

Remarkably, winemaker Niel Bester has been with the cellar since its opening in 1993. The previous year, Niel spent the European vintage at the famous French Châteaux Margaux, under mentorship of Paul Pontallier, who had also come to South Africa to give advice on converting Plaisir de Merle from a grape farm to a wine estate. Niel emphasises his experience there by saying: “Pontallier has played a major role in changing the way I view the extraction of tannins, colour and flavour during fermentation.”  Niel’s wines are complex and well structured. While they have great food-pairing characteristics, they also boast ageing potential. “This is such a noble cultivar which lends itself to the making of truly great wines if it is treated correctly in the vineyard and in the cellar,” Niel says about his favourite cultivar.

The wines

Integrated vineyard practice with an innovative approach as well as special maturation processes result in intense colours, ripe fruit flavours and soft tannins. The Sauvignon Blanc 2013 has delicate floral and tropical fruit aromas with touches of green fig and winter melon. Taste-wise, the tropical theme is continued with pineapple and passion fruit flavours. This crisp wine pairs perfectly with seafood, pasta and fish, at a food-friendly 13.41% alcohol. The bottle is also charmingly wrapped in tissue paper printed with the deed of Simon van der Stel.  The Chardonnay’s nose of honey and toasted almonds follows into tropical, lime and citrus flavours balanced by wood – a classic.
Plaisir de Merle’s reds provide much to enjoy, with or without food. The Cabernet Sauvignon boasts plum aromas with dark chocolate and blackberry flavours. The firm tannins mean it will age optimally. The farm’s Merlot has typical floral and eucalyptus aromas, with fruity flavours; while the ruby Shiraz bursts with berries, nuts, tobacco and smoke. Flavours of white pepper are prominent, too. Plaisir de Merle’s flagship wine, the Grand Plaisir, is a blend of noble red cultivars with magnificent aromas of sweet berries, spicy oak and vanilla, while the tastes of red berries, fruitcake and plums are rich and rewarding. The more unusual Malbec wine has wonderful aromas of cherries and spice with a rewarding creamy oak finish.

For a festive occasion of any kind, the Grand Brut MCC is a must. It has delicate yeasty tones with wonderful flavours of crisp green apple and subtle red berry fruit. It’s ideal to enjoy with rich and decadent seafoods and at 11.5% alcohol it is definitely a superb choice. The Plaisir de Merle Grand Brut MCC 2010 has in fact just won a gold medal at the prestigious Effervescents du Monde, the 11th International Competition of the Best Sparkling Wines in the World, further cementing its status as a wine to be reckoned with.

The Plaisir de Merle Grand Brut MCC 2010 has just won a gold medal at the prestigious Effervescents du Monde, the 11th International Competition of the Best Sparkling Wines in the World, cementing its status as a wine to be reckoned with. International experts tasted 594 sparkling wines from 28 countries over the course of three days, making the Effervescents du Monde competition one of the world’s top events for Sparkling wines. Diversity, quality standards and optimal tasting conditions enabled the judges to award 46 Gold and 152 Silver medals.

The tasting room is open from 9am to 5pm Mondays to Fridays and 10am to 4pm on Saturdays. Over and above the standard tasting options, visitors can enjoy a cellar tour with tasting; a tasting paired with treats such as cashew nuts and fruit cake or fudge or just sit back and enjoy a delicious cheese platter. Plaisir de Merle’s wines are singular in their consistency, and showcase a true love of and respect for classic and lasting winemaking.

Plaisir de Merle is located in Simondium on the R45 between Paarl and Franschhoek.

To learn more about Plaisir de Merle, visit www.plaisirdemerle.co.za, call +27.218741071 or send an email to info@plaisirdemerle.co.za.