Another South African Merlot

Can we get a fine South African Merlot at this price? ...

Backsberg Merlot

Backsberg Merlot

I don’t really feel like counting the number of South African wines or the number of Merlots that I have reviewed over the years. As the title indicates, this is not my first South African Merlot. This week I don’t have a $10 wine. A few years ago Backsberg Cellars was chosen as one of the Top 100 Wineries of the Year by Wine and Spirits Magazine (New York). Its founder, C. L. Back, was a Lithuanian refugee who settled in South Africa early in last century. His family-run winery is located only a few miles (about 10 kilometers) from Paarl in the Western Cape region. They produce kosher and organic wine and some brandy. They run a culinary school, a tasting room, and a restaurant. Our companion wine is an Israeli Shiraz-Merlot blend at more than twice the price. It too is Kosher.

OUR WINE REVIEW POLICY All wines that we taste and review are purchased at the full retail price.

Wine Reviewed
Backsberg Merlot Kosher For Passover Mevushal 2011 14 % alcohol $15.

There were no marketing materials so we quote the back label “The wine display aromas of raspberry and red plums. Succulent sweet fruit flavours and finely coated tannins. This Kosher Mevushal Wine has been made under the strict supervision of the Cape Town Beth Din, South Africa, and the OU.

Backsberg Cellars boasts over 80 years of winemaking history under single ownership. 3rd Generation proprietor, Michael Back, and his team are taking Backsberg Cellars to new levels of excellence, to further cement the existing reputation for innovation and quality set by his forebears.” And now for my review.

At the first sips this wine was sweet and offered stewed fruits and round tannins. Japanese Wasabi rice crackers pushed back its sweetness a bit and raspberries emerged. The initial meal centered on cheeseless beef lasagna made with salsa and some spinach noodles that abated the sweetness in my glass, which remained excessive. I also noted some oak. A tasty side dish of kale and mushrooms rounded and somewhat softened the libation. Fresh strawberries gave this Merlot lots of oak and some raspberries.

My next meal started with a homemade vegetable soup. In response Red was sweet and displayed balanced acidity. The main dish of sautéed homemade chicken beast nuggets rather diminished the Merlot’s sweetness and brought forward the taste of dark cherries. The side dish of zucchinis and mushrooms augmented the drink’s dark cherries while decreasing its tannins. Fresh blueberries took away the acidity and the sweetness from our South African friend.

The third meal kicked off with potato knishes that rendered the libation long and sweet offering some plums. The main dish was a beef chili made with spicy salsa. Now the liquid came up with light tannins and acidity. It was too sweet. Zesty guacamole muted this libation to some extent but didn’t mute the sweetness enough. Fresh raspberries just about erased everything but the sugar from my glass.

Final verdict. I definitely will not be buying this wine again. I don’t like sweet red wine and this bottle did absolutely nothing to make me change my mind.

Access the companion wine An Israeli Shiraz-Merlot Blend

About the Author

Levi Reiss has authored or co-authored ten books on computers and the Internet, but to be honest, he would rather just drink fine French or other wine, accompanied by the right foods. He teaches classes in computers at an Ontario French-language community college. His wine websites include    and

Visit his website devoted to Italian travel

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