Plasier de Merle Cabernet Sauvignon and how it changed SA red wine

Plasier de Merle, flagship farm for Distell and supplier of top grapes to Nederberg in the Paarl/ Simonsberg region really changed the style of South African Cabernet Sauvignon with their 1994 vintage. Although John Platter lists them as being established in 1993 with a first bottling in 1994 I know that I have tasting notes for their Cabernet Sauvignon 1993. So they must have produced one.

I wrote fine cedar, vanilla wood aromas. Supple and flavourful on the palate, elegant for an SA Cabernet Sauvignon. This Cabernet Sauvignon was the first SA version I tasted that had soft tannins but good structure and paved the way for a generation of reds that were easy drinking but had class. Before this they were tannic and took many years before they were ready for drinking. But the 1993 changed this.

But it was the Plasier de Merle Cabernet Sauvignon Cabernet Sauvignon 1994 that really upped the ante. I had tasted it on its first release and liked it but found the palate quite closed. But when I brought a second bottle to some friends in 2000 I was stunned at the rapid transformation and quality of the wine. It had a lovely colour now at its peak. Vanilla, oak and a sweet perfume on the nose with firm but sensual tannins.  What a wine! SA’s Chateaux Margaux! In the first wine article I ever wrote for a major local newspaper I bemoaned the new wave of easy drinking South African reds that I felt were too soft. They say that hindsight is fore sight but I feel that the development of SA reds was a matter of progression. First we had the tannic, slow maturing reds of pre 1994. Then we had a wave of reds that were too soft without enough tannic structure. But I feel that we have found the right balance in our reds now. The Plasier de Merle Cabernet Sauvignon 1994 played an important and vital part in that revolution.  

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