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Meerlust Estate
Outdoor adventures, tick. Dramatic scenery, tick. Big five safaris … tick, tick tick. South Africa may be a land of natural superlatives, but what many people are still in the dark when it comes to their fine wines? The South African wine regions - also known as the Winelands - are some of the most beautiful wine regions in the world, producing top-level Pinotage, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc.
Meerlust, mein future
The Meerlust estate is no exception. The 400-hectare Stellenbosch estate was founded in the 18th century (1756 to be exact) and has the longest family tradition in South Africa. Today it is the turn of Hannes Myburgh, eighth generation, to look after the family property. Named by a previous German owner, Meerlust has a literal translation of “sea longing” or “sea fever” and the estate’s proximity to the ocean is by no means a coincidence. Maritime winds keep the grapes cool during the hotter winter months, while the granite soil means the vines have to dig down deep, resulting in grapes that ripen more slowly, with a fuller body and greater complexity to boot.
South African soil, Italian style
Meerlust was relatively under the radar pre-1960, producing the traditional sweet dessert wine of South Africa of the time. That was until head winemaker Giorgio dalla Cia with his Italian heritage and sense of traditionalism stepped in. Replanting much of the estate with cabernet sauvignon, merlot, cabernet franc and pinot noir, Giorgio brought a European plot-by-plot vineyard management style, something that was unheard of in South Africa at the time. Under dalla Cia’s careful steerage, Meerlust became known as one of South Africa's most prominent wineries. The estate produced Cabernet Sauvignon-based blend Rubicon (so-called as it marked a change in history) as well as the varietal bottlings of Merlot, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. These were made in a very distinctive “old-world” style, and propelled Meeerlust to the top of collector’s lists. Dalla Cia was replaced by Chris Williams in 2003 who had perfected producing modern style wines at Delaire prior to taking up tenure at Meerlust.
Export and ROI
Meerlust produces 25,000 cases of wine a year, of which 2,000 are exported to the United States. Rubicon is made only in the very best years, and to date, there have only been 18 vintages produced. Like many South African fine wines, it represents exceptional value for money - think just around €60 for the 91-pointer 2016. Ageing potential is good, expectations are at least 10-years ROI.