Eagle’s Nest Merlot 2013


Price: R150 (as of Feb 2017)
Winery: Eagles’ Nest
Varietal: Merlot
Wine Region: Constantia
Country: South Africa


Quality: 17/20
Value: 4/5
Ponce Factor: Med-high
Occasion: Classic first date material

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This wine is like Hemingway; that is not to say “eccentric and suicidal”, but rather “elegant in its simplicity”.
The ripe plum fruit and blueberries on the vanguard are beautifully open, with oaky vanilla elements chiming in. Palate holds medium-weight (like Hemingway) with a almost absurdly soft mouthfeel, candied fruit notes, and sufficient acidity to keep it all above board.
The finish is longer than a Tolstoy novel.
This wine expertly walks the line between “serious” and “accessible”.

Merlot the Magician

This paragraph is in no way about magic.
I’d just been stinging for an alliteration.
But I guess, in some ways – through the inadvertent-Alanis-Morrisette-esque use of irony – it serves the purpose of what I want to say about this grape.
And that is that the unfortunate truth about merlot is that it is in dire need of a PR boost. The fact that it is ubiquitious, cheap to produce, not particularly gargantuan in nature, and often lacklustre in quality, means that, in the minds of casual wine drinkers, merlot is always either a backup or a bargain-buy.
And if they’re honest, Merlot-lovers often seek it out it for what it’s not (not big, not structured, not heavy), rather than what it is.
So, while I did say that this particular merlot was the ideal first date wine choice, I’d be amiss not to inform you that your date could see your merlot and judge you (by association) to be cheap, boring, and common.

“…the unfortunate truth about merlot is that it is in dire need of a PR boost…”

To prevent this sleight on your character, and to begin piercing the PR void, I thought I’d drop a few juicy facts (not #fakenews) that may begin to reshape your ideas about what Merlots are capable of.

  • The Cheval Blanc 1947 (at just less than $34,000 per bottle) has the distinction of being just one of two wines to be awarded the Class A status in the Classification of Saint-Emilion wine. In case you were wondering, this bad boy is a merlot.
  • The most expensive bottle of wine ever broken was a 1787 Chateaux Margaux, knocked over by wine merchant William Sokolin during a wine auction in New York. The bottle had the initials “Th.J” on it, and was believed to have belonged to Thomas Jefferson. It was valued at $500,000, and, yes, it had some merlot in it. Apparently, William felt a bit silly afterwards.
  • One of Merlot’s parent varieties is Magdeleine Noire des Charentes. I mean, heck! How boring can you be when your mother’s name is Madeleine Noire des Charentes?!
  • Merlot’s father is Cabernet Franc…so there has to be something in that, right? It worked for Charlie Sheen.
  • The name “merlot” is derived from the french word merle, which means “little black bird.”
  • That last fact was in no way interesting. I apologise. You will never get that time back.
  • If you haven’t watched Sideways, then …you should do so.

About the Author

Jono Le Feuvre is not a bean counter. He is a bean roaster. Bean roasters carry far more street cred & get to speak at bizarre niche gatherings of enquiring-but-unhinged-minds. They also usually have addictive tendencies. When he is not roasting beans he is pulling corks. Or deftly removing screwcap enclosures. But you can read more about him here.