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In keeping with its long-standing tradition of “classic elegance”, one of the Cape’s best-known wine estates has taken a novel approach when it comes to tasting exclusive wines in an exclusive venue.
Plaisir de Merle, an historic estate in the glorious Drakenstein area of Paarl, has re-vamped its Tasting Centre just in time for the summer season and expected influx of visitors to the Cape Winelands.
The newly renovated Tasting Centre, which was once an old barn, adjoins the picturesque, 18th century Homestead. It has a relaxed lounge atmosphere, where visitors can sample wines at their leisure, ensconced in comfy couches and fine surroundings. This new approach to wine-tasting is designed to expand the whole experience and allow visitors to absorb not only the pleasures of the wine, but, at the same time, a glimpse of a past gracious era. The modernized Tasting Centre is versatile enough to accommodate both small and large groups. And the use of folding doors extends the area without compromising the authenticity and elegance of the surroundings.
Situated on the fertile south-eastern slopes of the Simonsberg, Plaisir de Merle has a rich history dating back to 1693 when Simon van der Stel was Governor and many pioneering Huguenots were settling in this desirable Drakenstein region of the Cape.
Today the modern Plaisir de Merle is situated on 974 hectares has become one of the largest wine farms in the Cape. Only specific identified prime vineyard sites are chosen for planting the vines for the Plaisir de Merle range of wines – blocks that best reflect the characteristics of the terroir. Although about 375 hectares planted with noble grape varieties only about 80 hectares of the vineyards are used for Plaisir de Merle wines.
Cellarmaster Niel Bester’s approach is to produce wines which are internationally acceptable. He strives for fruity tannins rather than hard tannins, wine with ageing potential, yet ready to drink while relatively young. The emphasis is on capturing as much fruit as possible and on the discreet use of small wood.
The Plaisir de Merle range consists of a Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon and a Merlot and other special release wines such as a Shiraz and Grand Plaisir are available on a limited basis from the cellar only.
The cellar with a huge central mural which graces the entrance, opened in 1993. Although modern in design it is partially hidden by a moat and blends well with the surroundings. Visitors to the cellar can enjoy an all-encompassing view of winemaking activities from a bridge which runs right across the upper level.
Plaisir de Merle is open for tasting and wine sales from Mondays to Fridays from 09h00 to 17h00 and on Saturdays from 10h00 to 16h00 from November to March and from 10h00 to 14h00 during the winter months (April to October). Cellar tours should be booked in advance by telephoning 021 874 1071
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