Nestled on the slopes of the Helderberg Mountain in the Stellenbosch wine region lies this beautiful estate of 55 hectares. Known for consistently producing wines of high quality, Rust en Vrede is now considered to be one of the finest estates in South Africa when it comes to the making of truly great red wines. Established in 1694, it is one of the oldest estates in the Stellenbosch area and displays exquisite examples of Cape Dutch architecture.
In 1991, President Nelson Mandela awarded the Merit award of export achievement to the estate. During this period, they tirelessly worked on building the Rust en Vrede brand into a world quality product. These efforts were rewarded in 1993 when President Mandela selected Rust en Vrede to be served at the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize banquet.
Learn More About Merlot
Merlot (mehr-LOW) No second fiddle
Merlot is coming back into its own. High popularity led to mass production, which then led to a backlash towards the variety (remember Miles in Sideways?). But passionate Merlot producers, and of course the right bank of Bordeaux, continued to produce quality versions of this grape. Merlot remains the principle grape of top chateaux in St-Émilion
(think Petrus), not to mention its growth in popularity and quality in California and Washington State.
Merlot flourishes both as a single varietal and as a blending agent. It's known
for adding softness to the austere Cabernet
Sauvignon in Bordeaux blends in France, California and elsewhere. Chateau
Petrus, perhaps one of the most expensive and sought-after wines of the world,
is almost 100% Merlot. The grape exudes soft fruit flavors of plum and blackberry,
but it's versatile - the style can change depending on the climate and soil.
Merlot from mountain areas are usually more Cabernet like, with stronger structure
and tannins, while Merlot from valley floor areas and clay-based soils are opulent, with velvelty texture, often approachable when young.
Summing it up
Successful Sites: Bordeaux, California, Washington State, Chile
plum, cherry, blackberry, spice, raspberry
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.