Vergelegen Cabernet Merlot Fairtrade 2018
South Africa has the planet's oldest soils and does not have a problem with ripeness; if anything, the challenge is more with maintaining freshness.
Vergelegen is the Dutch for "remotely situated"; it is an historic wine estate in the Western Cape province of South Africa, just outside Cape Town. Based in Stellenbosch, overlooking False Bay, the this proximity to the ocean provides a coolness that gives a more European feel to the wines.
Exclusive to Co-op, this red is the second Fairtrade wine from the award-winning South African winery and a result of a collaboration between wine buyer, Ed Robinson and Vergelegen.
Vergelegen has a long but on-off history of winemaking.
The estate was first settled in 1700 by an early Governor of the Cape, Willem Adriaan van der Stel, who improved the estate but lost a large portion of it when the locals complained about his unrelated illegal activities. In 1798 the estate was sold to the Theunissen family, who planted extensive vineyards and concentrated on the production of grapes until phylloxera struck in the late nineteenth century, wiping out most of the grape production.
In 1917 Vergelegen was purchased by the millionaire mine magnate Sir Lionel Phillips as a present for his wife who removed the few remaining acres dedicated to grapes.
It was not until 1992 that the first contemporary vintage was harvested; yet within ten years the estate was recognised as producing some of South Africa's finest wines.
Vergelegen Cabernet Merlot Fairtrade 2018, (£9, The Co-op)
Complex oaky nose with ripe berry fruits, spice and earthy-mintiness; plush, supple and fresh with ripe berries, juicy black cherries, coffee grounds, pencil shavings, eucalyptus and toasty oak; full and substantial with very fine but persistent tannins.
Good and Good Value; drinks nicely on pouring straight from the bottle but will also age.
Match with peppered roast meats such as beef or chicken; or lay down for a few years and match with duck or venison.