Plaisir de Merle A taste of history at Plaisir de Merle
Plaisir de Merle
R45, Simondium Road, Paarl
The 1st of December is a historic day for the farm Plaisir de Merle, set on the scenic Simonsberg Mountains between Paarl and Franschhoek. Not only was the modern cellar completed on this day twenty years ago in 1993, but it is exactly 320 years since the land was granted to French Huguenot Charles Marais by Governor of the Cape, Simon van der Stel, in 1693. The Manor House revels in this history too. Lovingly restored and dating back to 1764, it’s the ideal venue for an intimate wedding, bespoke conference or special function. Its eclectic elegance has comfort at its core and can sleep eight guests.
The continuation of this historical legacy is of great importance to the people behind Plaisir de Merle. With its consistent wine quality and timelessly stylish packaging it sits firmly positioned as a big hitter in the wine world; while its membership of the WWF Biodiversity & Wine Initiative means the awareness of conservation for the future is taken seriously too.
Remarkably, winemaker Niel Bester has been with the cellar since its opening in 1993. The previous year, Niel spent the European vintage at the famous French Châteaux Margaux, under mentorship of Paul Pontallier, who had also come to South Africa to give advice on converting Plaisir de Merle from a grape farm to a wine estate. Niel emphasises his experience there by saying: “Pontallier has played a major role in changing the way I view the extraction of tannins, colour and flavour during fermentation.”
Niel’s wines are complex and well structured. While they have great food-pairing characteristics, they also boast ageing potential. “This is such a noble cultivar which lends itself to the making of truly great wines if it is treated correctly in the vineyard and in the cellar,” Niel says about his favourite cultivar.
The tasting room is open from 9am to 5pm Mondays to Fridays and 10am to 4pm on Saturdays. Over and above the standard tasting options, visitors can enjoy a cellar tour with tasting; a tasting paired with treats such as cashew nuts and fruit cake or fudge or just sit back and enjoy a delicious cheese platter. Plaisir de Merle’s wines are singular in their consistency, and showcase a true love of and respect for classic and lasting winemaking.