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Major Series Merlot, Ernie Els

Ernie Els Wines
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Technical Analysis
Alcohol
14.6
Residual sugar
2.0
pH
3.41
Acidity
6.1
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Named in recognition of Ernie Els' golfing achievements, Major Series also reflects the premium nature of the wines from this South African estate.
Tasting note

Rich, plummy and luscious dark cherry is evident to start; balanced by notes of pipe tobacco, fresh tilled earth, and an elegant, herbaceous tone. The palate follows, full of rounded, rich, fruit flavours and chewy, dense tannins, with a chalky and dry end. It shows the density of the vintage, balancing approachable fruit with a serious tannin undercarriage and etched granitic focus to the long finish. Medium bodied with good complexity.

Origin
South Africa
Variety
Merlot
Malolactic Fermentation
Yes
Bottle Size
75cl
Vegetarian
Yes
Winemaker
Louis Strydom
Closure
Cork
Region
Stellenbosch
Vegan
Yes

Vintage conditions

The 2018 harvest season will be remembered as the drought season. At Ernie Els Wines they are very blessed to have bountiful water on the Helderberg. but still need to be careful with water use during the summer months leading up to harvest. They are also working hard to adapt their viticultural techniques during the past three years to help the vineyards cope optimally with the heat and limited irrigation. The drought was further buffered by a surprisingly cooler season. Due to the somewhat buffered circumstances, the vines reacted gracefully to the drought with no abnormal growth patterns observed. Vine canopies were kept nice and thin for sunlight and, of course, fewer leaves means less water needed. Vineyards are resilient plants and their natural instinct in drier years is to produce smaller bunches with smaller berries. Small berries are usually the start of a great wine and 2018 was no different.

Vinification details

The hand-picked bunches arrive at the winery in the morning. The bunches are sorted and destemmed, after which the berries are sorted again to ensure that only the ripe berries go to the tank. Whole berries are fermented in open top tanks as well as in barrels. Intermittent pump-overs and punch downs ensure a balance between flavour, colour and tannin extraction from the skins. All ferments are meticulously monitored during fermentation to ensure that all the natural aromas and flavours are preserved and highlighted as required. After primary fermentation some batches will be left on the skins for extended maceration as required. The batches are pressed and transferred to a combination of old and new oak for maturation. Each batch of Merlot is maturated separately (micro-vinified) in oak barrels before blending and eventual bottling.

Technical Analysis
Alcohol
14.5
Residual sugar
3.0
pH
3.38
Acidity
5.9
Download Specification Sheet Download Full Size Images
Named in recognition of Ernie Els' golfing achievements, Major Series also reflects the premium nature of the wines from this South African estate.
Tasting note

All the hallmarks of a classic Merlot with ripe plums and earthy notes supported by a core of minerality and fleshed out with ripe strawberry, forest underfloor, hint of chocolate, and a deepening of dark black berry laced with a hint caramel and oak spice. The savoury palate is coated in sweet, attractive oak with distinct salty edge. Medium bodied, fresh yet serious with good line of acidity and clean to end. A blend of 94% Merlot, 6% Cabernet Franc.

Origin
South Africa
Variety
Merlot
Malolactic Fermentation
Yes
Bottle Size
75cl
Vegetarian
Yes
Winemaker
Louis Strydom
Fining Agent
Egg white
Closure
Cork
Region
Stellenbosch
Vegan
No

Vintage conditions

The previous growing season had its challenges, which seemed to roll over into the 2016/2017 growing season with the continuation of the drought. Winter 2016 was quite dry with even less rain than the previous year, while spring quickly passed straight into warmer summer days. Bud burst was good due to sufficient soil moisture, but with the warmer spring/summer weather the soil started losing moisture quickly, resulting in naturally reduced shoot growth. The vineyard then focused its energy on developing and ripening the small bunches, with smaller berries leading to more concentrated colour and flavour. The dry conditions also meant that both the vineyards and grapes were very healthy. With moderate, but warm days during December and January the start of harvest returned to its normal date. The uninterrupted warmth during harvest also helped the bunches reach optimal ripeness while the berries steadily developed flavours over a slightly longer period of time.

Vinification details

The hand-picked bunches arrived at the winery in the morning, and were then sorted and destemmed. Whole berries were fermented in open top tanks as well as in barrels with intermittent pump-overs and punch downs to ensure a balance between flavour, colour and tannin extraction from the skins. All ferments were meticulously monitored during fermentation to ensure that all the natural aromas and flavours were preserved and highlighted as required. After primary fermentation some batches were left on the skins for extended maceration as required. The batches were pressed and transferred to a combination of old and new oak for maturation separately (micro-vinified) before blending and eventual bottling.

Technical Analysis
Alcohol
14.9
Residual sugar
3.3
pH
3.50
Acidity
5.9
Download Specification Sheet Download Full Size Images
Named in recognition of Ernie Els' golfing achievements, Major Series also reflects the premium nature of the wines from this South African estate.
Tasting note

The 2016 Merlot is medium in body and textbook in character. Classically built, it offers a mélange of stewed fruit, chocolate and spice from the nose through to the palate. Notes of dry earth and hints of mint offer complexity, while classy oak notes intertwine with masses of ripe, succulent fruit. A fresh acidity nicely balances the ripe berries and savoury stance, while gutsy tannins offer some good tension and depth.

Origin
South Africa
Variety
Merlot
Malolactic Fermentation
Yes
Bottle Size
75cl
Vegetarian
Yes
Winemaker
Louis Strydom
Fining Agent
Egg white
Closure
Cork
Region
Stellenbosch
Vegan
No

Vintage conditions

Good reserves were accumulated during the post-harvest period (April and May), after which leaf fall occurred mostly at the right time. The winter started off late in most of the regions but the weather conditions were cold enough to break dormancy. Spring came on time and the weather conditions were ideal which led to good, even bud burst. The harvest period started a week early due to the warmer weather and it ended about two weeks earlier.

Vinification details

Grapes were handpicked in the cool of early morning. Whole berries were then fermented in open top tanks and barrels with intermittent pump-overs and punch downs to ensure a balance between flavour, colour and tannin extraction from the skins. All ferments were meticulously monitored during fermentation to ensure that all the natural aromas and flavours were preserved and highlighted as required. After primary fermentation some tanks and barrel underwent extended maceration as required.

Technical Analysis
Alcohol
14.6
Residual sugar
3.1
pH
3.64
Acidity
6.3
Download Specification Sheet Download Full Size Images
Named in recognition of Ernie Els' golfing achievements, Major Series also reflects the premium nature of the wines from this South African estate.
Tasting note

Manages to balance succulent red fruits with a savoury complexity; whiffs of tomato leaf, earth, tobacco and plums are reminiscent of Bordeaux. The palate is more sweet-fruited and juicy however, with cherries and strawberries taking centre stage. The tannins are soft, supported by firm acidity and a long finish. Perhaps the finest vintage to date!

Origin
South Africa
Variety
Merlot
Malolactic Fermentation
Yes
Bottle Size
75cl
Vegetarian
Yes
Winemaker
Louis Strydom
Fining Agent
Egg white
Closure
Cork
Region
Stellenbosch
Vegan
No

Vintage conditions

The vintage will be remembered as one of the driest and earliest in years, with a somewhat smaller wine grape harvest promising exceptional wines. Good reserves were accumulated during the post-harvest period in April and May, after which leaf fall generally occurred at the right time. A cold, wet winter led to the accumulation of sufficient cold units for the full breaking of dormancy, which contributed to even bud break. Warm weather in August resulted in earlier bud break, after which a warm, dry and windy summer kept vineyard growth under control and accelerated ripening by approximately two weeks. The dry weather also led to one of the healthiest seasons in years, with almost no losses due to diseases or rot.

Vinification details

The grapes were hand-picked in the cool of early morning. On the sorting table, all excess stalks and inferior berries were carefully removed and grape bunches were gently destalked. Fermentation took place in both 3-ton and 7-ton open-top stainless steel tanks. The wines were pumped-over and punched-down manually 3 to 5 times per day to ensure maximum colour extraction from the skins. After primary fermentation the wines was left on skins for an additional 7 – 14 days before pressing. Each variety is maturated separately (micro-vinified) in oak barrels before blending and eventual bottling.

Technical Analysis
Alcohol
14.8
Residual sugar
3.2
pH
3.65
Acidity
5.9
Download Specification Sheet Download Full Size Images
Named in recognition of Ernie Els' golfing achievements, Major Series also reflects the premium nature of the wines from this South African estate.
Tasting note

The 2014 Ernie Els Merlot abounds with ripe plums, figs and cherry. It is soft and juicy on the entry with a delicate floral expression that follows from nose to palate. Medium bodied and fine, an earthy complexity adds depth, while notes of Swiss chocolate give a luxurious feel. The firm tannins are balanced by a red-berry crunch and a long savoury finish.

Origin
South Africa
Variety
Merlot
Malolactic Fermentation
Yes
Bottle Size
75cl
Vegetarian
Blank
Winemaker
Louis Strydom
Fining Agent
Egg white
Closure
Cork
Region
Stellenbosch
Vegan
Blank

Vintage conditions

Initial vineyard growth was slow due to late cold fronts experienced during August 2013 followed by cool, wet weather at the start of the growing season. Mid-November created challenging spraying conditions and limited access to the vineyards. As a result, downy mildew led to crop losses early on in the season in some of the red wine areas. Thereafter, favourable climatic conditions improved for flowering and good berry set ensued. The high rainfall in mid-November did however spark vigorous growth which required extra input to ensure superior grape quality and disease prevention through good canopy aeration and sunlight exposure. Widespread rainfall during early January increased pressure on viticulturists to prevent disease and rot. Ideal dry and moderate conditions reigned during ripening in January and mid-February after which a warm period accelerated ripening and resulted in great pressure on harvest intakes. Moderate weather conditions during the harvest season contributed to intense red wines.

Vinification details

The grapes were hand-picked in the cool of early morning. On the sorting table, all excess stalks and inferior berries were carefully removed. Grape bunches were gently destalked and lightly crushed. Fermentation took place in 7-ton, open-top stainless steel tanks with yeast WE 372 being added to the juice. The wines were pumped-over and punched-down manually five times per day to ensure maximum colour extraction from the skins. After primary fermentation the maceration period was 10 – 16 days before pressing. The wine was then maturated in French oak barrels before eventual bottling.