Merlot Forum announces SA’s first Merlot Top 10 competition

by | Apr 7, 2022 | Article, News

The first Merlot Top 10 competition, organised by the South African Merlot Forum (also known as ‘Hallo Merlot’), is to be held this year and aims to highlight the exceptional quality of Cape Merlot.

The competition will also highlight the commitment of the country’s top winemakers to this variety, as well as provide consumers more precise insights into the standard of wines made from this grape variety.



Forum committee includes Danielle le Roux (co-chair), Yvonne Lester, Emile Joubert, Dawie Botha (chairman), Sandra Lotz, Nic van Aarde, Matthew Copeland and James Downes (recently exited).


Leading up to the announcement of the Top 10 on 22 June, an esteemed panel of wine judges has been assembled to judge the competition entries on 31 May and 1 June. Producers have until 20 May (late entries) to enter with all pertinent details on


Dawie Botha, chairman of the Forum, who will also convene the judging panel, says that initiating a Top 10 competition is a new highlight in the Forum’s aim of accentuating the standard of South African Merlot, the diversity of the Cape Winelands terroir where this grape is grown, and the popularity the wine variety enjoys among the consumers.

“As South Africa’s top-selling red wine varietal, Merlot enjoys a high profile among South African wine drinkers,” says Dawie, who is also the cellar master at Anthonij Rupert Wines.

“With the Top 10 competition, we want to showcase the exceptional standard of Merlot wines in this category of Cape wine,” he comments.

The awards will recognise the best-quality wines and provide members of the Forum the opportunity to see how their respective wines and styles perform against those entered by their peers.



Dawie adds: “This kind of competition and exchange of information can only lift the bar for the grape variety as a whole and place it in its rightful position as one of the country’s leading categories in terms of quality, style typicity and terroir expression.”

Besides Dawie, the judges chosen to serve on this year’s inaugural Merlot Top 10 panel are Cathy van Zyl (MW), acclaimed wine writer Malu Lambert, South African Sommelier Association (SASA) chairman Spencer Fondaumiere (also a ASI qualified sommelier), and Tarryn Vincent, national sales manager for Reciprocal Wines.

Follow the Forum’s developments on the Top 10 competition on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

About Merlot Forum

We really love Merlot and the prospects it brings to South Africa. 

We aim to promote and improve of wine made from the grape variety and provide a platform for acquiring existing and new knowledge and sharing it with members and producers through workshops and online dialogues.

Our hope is that through better knowledge and information sharing we can facilitate the improvement of both the image and quality of South African Merlot and Merlot-based blends.

The Forum also focuses on marketing, awareness and identifying valuable research that can contribute to making it matter to more South Africans.

Why Merlot?

Merlot is often seen as a perfect blending partner that brings a velvety softness to the final wine.

However, numerous examples exist worldwide of full-bodied wines with good colour, balanced tannins and the ability to age well.

With careful grape and wine production techniques it is known that this grape variety has its place amongst the great wines of the world.

How to go about achieving these outcomes is the primary focus of this website and we aim to achieve this through the sharing of ideas and concepts that have proven to be successful in the field.

WineLand Media 

WineLand Media, the longest-running print publication for the greater South African wine industry, is the official media partner of the Merlot Top 10 Competition. To get your latest copy of the magazine (or better yet, why not subscribe?), click here.


Additional sponsors of the event: WineMS and Theron du Plessis.






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