Red Wine, Plaisir De Merle Grand Plaisir 2008

If you try different wines, you are bound to figure out which wine you like! This wine estate is one I first visited with my brother and his family, a couple of years ago, and it was poetic in that the first time I tried one of their wines, we were together, and had to chuckle at how one of our friends seemed very eager to tell us the name of the wine estate, with the French accent in play. I still bumble my pronunciation, but Malose that night had the words just roll off his tongue. You can imagine when Chomba was in Pick n’ Pay, and she sent me a WhatsApp picture asking if she should buy this bottle of the Grand Plaisir 2008, my answer was an enthusiastic YES, given the price point, the age of the wine and the wine estate that was established in 1693 on the slopes of the Simonsberg mountains between Paarl and Franschoek.

A decanter need not be a convoluted shape IMO, simply allow for enough surface area for aerating

A good wine gets better with age they say… I really want to find the person that started that thinking, as not all wines are bottled to age, and some great wines are great for drinking on release. Having said that, I am a sucker for aged wines. As much as I was not sure how well Pick n’ Pay had stored the wine, and when they got it, I was willing to gamble. We did not even know the grapes in the wine, as they were not listed on the bottle which resembled the old world of wine and an upperty status. Knowing the wine estate was enough for us to explore.

There is a waiter’s friend, and there is a fancy wine opener

This wine was almost ten years old, and I was not going to take my chances given I did not know the grapes, so  poured it into a decanter and allowed it to breathe for 30 minutes before Chomba and I tucked in. We had not cooked, and Chomba had just started drinking alcohol again, as she had given it up for Lent. We had gotten take away pizza, at our favourite spot for that Italian delight, being Col’Cacchio Pizzeria. When I poured the wine into the glass, it was a darker shade of red than I expected given the age. It was a ruby red, where I was expecting a lot closer to the brick red, a typical characteristic of red wines with time losing the intensity of their colour.

Pouring wine, there is etiquette about how you pour, but I couldn’t be fussed

I don’t check the tasting notes of the wine before I taste it, as I more enjoy our own discovery and comparing as that is the best way for me to learn. On the nose, it was quite aromatic, with herbal tones I could not quite put my finger on, and I did pick up a bit of eucalyptus. At 14% alcohol, I was expecting a bold wine, which it was, but it was light and not typical of the heavy South African style I would have expected for a red wine. This was in essence a blind tasting for us, and all I could tell was that it was a blend, but of which grapes, I could not confidently say.

Don’t be fooled by people that smell a cork, it really smells like cork and tells you nothing about the wine

The taste surprised me, given the nose I had picked up, as I found the tannins relatively sharper than the expectation based on age and nose. I had expected more of a Shiraz and Merlot, given the nose, but the tannins told me that there was a heavy base of Cabernet Sauvignon. I enjoyed it, don’t get me wrong, and it was a complex wine in that I found it grew on me with every sip. The first glass was predominantly about the oak and fruitiness, yet the second glass a lot more about the spicy tones. I was having a Margarita Pizza, so  it complemented the herbs on my pizza quite well. From first sip, there was a lingering taste that I could not put my hands on, and it came through in the second glass as  liquorice. Chomba’s pizza was a lot more colourful, seeing as she had ordered the Green Genie.

A green genie pizza, and the hint is in the name, it is meatless

On reading more about the wine, as I do before I post to help me with my research, I found the wine tasting notes and sale price  on the Vinoteque website, and they are selling it at R370 per bottle, making it a comfortable Category A wine. If you are not sure on the categories, refer to my blog post earlier about the Thelema Sauvignon Blanc. The wine grapes in the blend are Cabernet Sauvignon (55%), Petit Verdot (10%), Malbec (10%), Merlot (10%), Shiraz (9%) and Cabernet Franc (6%). The aging potential is seven to twelve years, and given the look of the cork of the bottle I had, I don’t think the Pick n Pay storage was optimal, so I am willing to bet that the Vinoteque experience would make for an even better one than I had.


The wine was a HIT, and was a great welcome back to my wine club friend, Chombs (aka my wife). I have also officially made a choice now to only post on the wines that I  enjoy, or get something out of. Wine is very subjective, and I am not here to be a critic, but rather create a learning moment for all of us, that leaves you curious to try that bottle of wine you have not tried. I have zero chance of getting you to explore, if I speak negatively of a wine bottle. Add that I know that for every bottle that I don’t like, there are numerous people that like it, and it leaves me feeling that would just not be fair. Cheers!

There is reward in flavours and aroma if you let the wine breathe after decanting

Author: fit4thabo

I'm a Banker by profession, and ubiquitous on social media. Sometimes, it is as if my brain has a mind of its own. Full of life, and love my family, my work, sports, food, whisky and wine.

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