Meerlust is one of South Africa's most famous and historical wine estates. The land where the farm is now situated was originally owned by a powerful and wealthy free burgher named Henning Huising. After his death in 1713 the estate passed through many hands until it was bought in 1756 by Johannes Albertus Myburgh - and has remained in the Myburgh family ever since.
Nicholaas Myburgh (7th generation of the Myburgh family, and father of present owner Hannes Myburgh) took over the farm in 1950, but the condition of the property had declined severely from its 18th century splendor. Nicolaas set about an extensive restoration of both the buildings and the vineyards. One of his first projects was the construction of a damn that allows for irrigation in exceptionally dry years, but is usually used only after the vintage. He also replanted the vineyards with mainly red varietals.
The farm is approximately 15 kilometers outside Stellenbosch, and is the Stellenbosch estate nearest the Indian Ocean (the name Meerlust is of German origin, and translates to "pleasure of the sea"). The cooling breezes off False Bay allow a slower, steadier ripening period for the grapes. This translates to less loss of fruit aromas, and there is also a lesser risk of a crop being ruined in the event of a sudden, dramatic rise in temperature.
Learn More About Bordeaux Red Blends
Bordeaux Blends The Fab Five With so much history under its belt, it's no wonder that Bordeaux has figured out the recipe to produce amazing wines. Centuries of making (and drinking) wine led to the blend that has become synonomous with Bordeaux. Winemakers in the New World replicate this formula to create successful blends in their respective regions - you may see Bordeaux blends from the US labeled Meritage (rhymes with heritage). The name defines American wines made from Bordeaux grapes.
Notable Facts Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot. These five red grapes are the components of a classic Bordeaux blend. Cabernet Sauvignon and/or Merlot usually play the lead role, while Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot act as the supporting cast. These three grapes help to add color, structure and body in varying amounts. A Bordeaux blend typically, but not exclusively, uses at least three of the five grapes to be labeled as such, but many wines in Bordeaux and else where stick to just two. The beauty of the blend? Each year the percentage of each grape in the blend can vary and the winemaker can include more of the variety that excelled in that particular vintage.
Summing it up Successful Sites: Bordeaux, California, Australia, Washington
Learn More About South Africa
A long history of growing grapes and making wine, but less of a history on exporting it, and even lesser on
the quality aspect.
At the turn of the century (1900, that is), a surplus of wine in South Africa created a hierarchy of cooperatives, the
biggest and best known being KWV. This organization seemed to favor quantity over quality and had most
control over wines and vineyards until the late 1980's. Now, with a bit more competition, quality is coming
around. Yet, South African wine was not even seen in American wine stores until the mid-1990's – the trade
embargo on the country for their racial apartheid laws kept South African wine out of the US. When apartheid fell, so did the
embargo, and SA bottles began showing up on US shelves.
White wine has always been the cash crop of South Africa, with much of it distilled to make brandy.
More white than red is
planted, much of it the Steen variety – known elsewhere in the world as
Chenin Blanc. Good producers are making
top quality dry wines from this grape. Another grape gaining some raves is
Sauvignon Blanc, producing
whites that are dry and crisp, yet rounder than many of its Southern Hemisphere counterparts. For reds,
the top grapes are Syrah/Shiraz,
Cabernet Sauvignon (& blends) and
Pinotage. Cabernet Sauvignon and
Bordeaux blends was once the
favorite and most-produced, but Shiraz is taking over as
wineries crank out high quality wines from the variety. Pinotage, which used to be a grape only your
mother could love, has improved dramatically and is often as delicious as it is distinctive. The most
popular regions of the country include Stellenbosch and Paarl.