Ernie Els Merlot 2010
Golfing supremo, Ernie Els, love for red wine encouraged him back in 1999 to start a joint venture winery outside Stellenbosch, with Jean Englebrecht who at that stage was managing his families wine estate, Rust en Vrede The duo created the brand Ernie Els Wines with the ambition of making a range of fine red wines. Louis Strydom ,who was wine maker at the time for Rust en Vrede, and a red wine specialist, joined the new venture to head up the wine making team.
However after a successful run of excellent vintages 2010 saw the end of the partnership between Jean and Ernie as they felt that their respective brands, Ernie Els Wines and Rust en Vrede had reached maturity and that it was the right time to pursue the future as separate entities. Loius Strydom continues as Cellarmaster and Managing Director of Ernie Els wines and now, after the split, has had the opportunity to introduce a range of medium priced wines including two white wines under the new Big Easy brand.
Last week I was invited to the winery to taste and review the Ernie Els and Big Easy range of wines. The tasting started on the stoep outside the tasting room with the delicious Big Easy Chenin Blanc 2011, while we enjoyed the magnificent view of the Stellenbosch wine lands below. The golfing connection is evident as there is a grass tee with golf balls and golf club in front of the wineries tasting room which means after a few glasses you can try your swing without, hopefully, making a fool of yourself!!! From here we visited the impressive maturation cellar where Louis guided us through a tasting of the four components that make up the excellent Big Easy red: Mourvedre, Grenache, Cinsaut and Viognier were also lovely on their own and the question was why not bottle them as single cultivars! The answer given was that there is not enough demand for them in the market place which is a pity!
We then tasted the Ernlie Els premium range including the Merlot, the Cabernet Sauvigon; the Proprietors Syrah and Proprietors Red Blend. We ended off with the 2007 Ernie Els Signature which is the flagship wine from this portfolio. I found the wines all offered perfect balance between fruit, wood and acid. They were wines that could happily be enjoyed now but had potential for many years of cellar maturation as well…especially the Signature which oozed layers of rich blackcurrant fruit supported by a lushes tannic grip and silky finish which never seemed to stop!!!!
Lunch followed prepared by in-house chef Joan and it was here that I found the ultimate wine for the day….the 2010 Ernie Els Merlot! This 100% Merlot is already smooth with rich voluptuous red and black cherry fruit where the carved tannins support the tremendous depth and length of this wine. It went perfectly with Joan’s Biltong and feta spring rolls served with balsamic reduction.
Expect to pay R157.50