Giorgio Dalla Cia, who produced Meerlust’s first Pinot Noir back in 1980, reckons that when it comes to local versions currently available “a lot are by far too light”. The maiden vintage 2011 (R375 a bottle) under his own label is from Polkadraai fruit, a German clone with looser berries to avoid mildew in high humidity growing conditions. Dalla Cia believes malolactic fermentation in barrel is crucial to fix colour and add the structure often missing from South African examples.
The wine was matured in 100% new French oak, for 13 months and there’s a pronounced but not totally disconcerting toasty character on nose and palate. Red and black cherry, fresh acidity (added during ferment) and good tannic grip, it’s certainly is more substantial than most. I suggested all elements need time to marry when I reviewed the wine for Platter’s 2013 last year before giving it a rating of 4 Stars and though it’s tracking well some six months on, optimal drinking will be 2014 – 2016. Score: 16/20.