The South African Merlot Forum announce top 10 merlots.
The South African Merlot Forum announce top 10 merlots.
Image: Unsplash

Anyone familiar with the film Sideways will recall the infamous line delivered by the wine loving-character, Miles Raymond (played by Paul Giamatti): “No, if anyone orders merlot, I’m leaving. I am NOT drinking any... merlot!”

The film created the “Sideways Effect” and would influence the rise in sales of pinot noir in California and subsequent depression of the merlot market.

This reputation of merlot, while perhaps still prevalent among winos and even some winemakers, has not stopped the success of the wine in the SA market. The varietal being the most consumed red varietal in the country and the third overall.  And thankfully so, for the country produces some seriously stunning expressions of the cultivar.

HalloMerlot — the SA merlot Forum — was created by a group of winemakers and wine industry folk who are  passionate about the grape with the aim of shining the spotlight on the often overlooked varietal, their slogan simply stating us much: “making merlot matter”.

The forum’s first project was the creation of the HalloMerlot Top 10 merlot competition, which aims to elevate the status and recognition of the Cape’s expressions of the wine. Giving winemakers and consumers the opportunity to compare and benchmark against top Merlots.

Judged by a panel of the who’s who of SA wine, the panel included master of wine Cathy van Zyl, award-winning wine writer Malu Lambert, international wine salesperson Tarryn Vincent, Association de la Sommellerie Internationale (ASI) certified sommelier Spencer Fondaumiere and winemaker Matthew Copeland. The team blind tasted more than 70 Merlots before whittling down to 26 bottles and then tasting once again to score the Top 10.

The South African Merlot Forum announce top 10 merlots.
The South African Merlot Forum announce top 10 merlots.
Image: Supplied

The award ceremony, which took place at Vondeling Wine Estate on June 22 2022, presented top 10 certificates to the following wines (in no particular order):

  1. Dornier merlot 2019
  2. Elgin Vintners merlot 2019
  3. Glen Carlou Collection merlot 2019
  4. Anura Reserve merlot 2020
  5. Bein Little merlot 2019
  6. Vondeling merlot Barrel Selection 2019
  7. Delaire Graff Estate Banghoek Reserve merlot 2019
  8. Org de Rac merlot 2019
  9. Landskroon merlot 2020
  10. Groot Constantia merlot 2018

The awards mark the first of a series of events hosted by the forum with the aim of championing the noble grape varietal. The inaugural event celebrating the  length and breadth of SA merlot through the diverse regions represented in the top 10.

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