October is Merlot Month and to celebrate we bring you all things Merlot – starting with the terroir. Merlot is widely regarded as one of the world’s most difficult cultivars to grow. At Creation on the Hemel-en-Aarde Ridge however, we are blessed with a number of factors contributing to the successful cultivation of the fickle Merlot.
Firstly there’s the macro-climate which has a great influence on the suitability of this cultivar to our terroir. Our Merlot is planted at an altitude of around 292 m above sea level on the rolling foothills of Babylonstoren Mountain, some 9 km from the Atlantic Ocean. The soil type is clay-loam derived from Bokkeveld shale as the parent material. And then the estate has a night index of 12° C less than the day-time temperature and thus enjoys a unique diurnal variation between warm days at around 23° C and cool nights.
Of equal importance is the meso-climate. Our Merlot is planted on south-eastern slopes in soils such as Pinedene, Tukulu and Oakleaf which are of medium to high potential. The top soil with a depth of 40 to 60 cm has a good organic content with a sub-soil rich in clay to provide adequate water retention and a stress-free environment.
Last but not least is the micro-climate, i.e. the influence of climatic conditions within the vine. The row direction of our Merlot vines is north-east, south-west, which is appropriate for our cool climate area since it allows in morning and afternoon sun. To further enhance sunlight penetration and at the same time allow ventilation, side shoots and leaves are cut away. We have two Merlot clones planted: 348 and 346. The yields are relatively low at around 5 tons per hectare.
All these influences combine with Creation viticulturist-winemaker Jean-Claude Martin’s intimate knowledge of each vineyard row’s specific requirements. Add to this his ability to judge phenolic ripeness through organoleptic tasting plus his expertise in the cellar and you have a great recipe for success!
And speaking of recipes: In honour of the Creation Merlot and the Creation Reserve Merlot, and to perfectly pair these award-winning wines, we’re bringing out the classics! For the recipe of the ever-popular Cauliflower Soup with Gorgonzola Cheese, to be paired with the Creation Merlot, click here. And for the recipe of the scrumptious Lamb Loin with Cauliflower Purée, Blueberry Gel, Red Cabbage Salad tossed in Rosemary, Granola Crunch and Gorgonzola Crumbs, to be paired with the Creation Reserve Merlot, click here.