Aromatic, vibrant and abundantly fruity, the first barrel-matured Merlot to be released by Vondeling Wines in the Voor-Paardeberg of Paarl is the latest addition to their Barrel Selection range of bold, full-bodied wines.
The Barrel Selection Merlot 2017 has already attracted accolades – four stars in the 2020 Platter’s South African Wine Guide and a Gold medal awarded pre-release in the 2019 Michelangelo International Wine and Spirits Awards.
Merlot is a passion of Vondeling winemaker Matthew Copeland and he says this first wooded Merlot from the estate is an outstanding addition to the premium Barrel Selection range and showcases the rich complexity that the varietal brings to Vondeling’s elegant and polished flagship Philosophie Bordeaux-style blend.
“The farm has huge potential to consistently produce a full-bodied Merlot of superior quality and concentration at a mid-range price point. Our Barrel Selection Merlot is just that. Its pure fruit and fine tannins make for superb drinking now, while a few years of ageing will reveal its full, rounded potential,” says Copeland.
The grapes, a modern clone from France, are from a vineyard right up against the Voor-Paardeberg mountain on some of its steepest slopes, aptly named the Spice Merlot block as the wine’s sultry dark fruit is balanced by well-integrated spice from extended oak ageing.
“These vines are almost 20 years old, yielding a moderate crop which ensures full body and intense flavours in the wines,” Copeland said.
Vondeling’s attention to detail and gentle approach sees the grapes hand-picked and -sorted, gentle destemming and cold-soaking before allowing natural fermentation to take place. A combination of whole and crushed berries allows for slow extraction of tannins and gives the wine its intense fruit-driven profile.
After fermentation, extended maceration on the skins brings the components into harmonious balance. The wine undergoes malolactic fermentation and then spends up to 18 months in 300lt French oak barrels, for gentle maturation and integration, and is further matured in the bottle to ensure optimal quality on release.
Vibrant, dark ruby red in colour, with aromatic black cherries, sweet raspberry and lavender on the nose, the wine is abundant with juicy red berries and sweet liquorice. A smooth and soft palate, with fine tannins, leads on to a clean, lingering finish.
Copeland recommends pairing the wine with full-flavoured tomato-based pasta or chicken dishes, or tangy braaied lamb chops.
Vondeling’s Barrel Selection range is well-known for offering great quality at a competitive price, and the maiden vintage Merlot 2017 sells for R150 from the Vondeling tasting room or online wine shop.