July 2017

Org de Rac’s Merlot 2015
tops the Merlot Report 2017

Org de Rac’s Merlot 2015 topped the list of Merlot wines presented in the Winemag Merlot Report 2017. It was one of only two wines, out of 67 entries from 50 South African wineries, to score higher than 90 points.

Org de Rac Merlot 2015 and Boschendal 1685 2015 both scored 92 points when they were tasted by a three-person panel. The wines were tasted blind and scored according to a 100-point quality scale.

“We are delighted that Org de Rac’s organic wines are now surpassing the quality of the best mainstream wines,” says Org de Rag winemaker, Frank Meaker, “this rating shows the potential of the estate’s Merlot wines."

The Merlot Report is published by Winemag in association with the official producer body known as the Merlot Forum. Its purpose is to assess the state of the Merlot category on an annual basis.

Merlot is the eighth most planted variety in South Africa and Merlot grapevines cover an estimated 5 500 ha, or about 6% of the national vineyard.

Wines that scored 90 points or more on the 100-point quality scale were as follows:

92 Points: Boschendal 1685 2015, Org de Rac 2015
90 Points: Delaire Graff 2014, Lourensford Limited Release 2015, Shannon Woolworths 2015

To read the Merlot Report 2017 go to

Picture of the month

At this year’s VinExpo Bordeaux exposition an entire exhibition hall was dedicated to organic wines. The exhibition area was called “World of Organic Wines”, or “WOW!”.

“There were adverts for organic wines all over the place, even at the airport in Bordeaux,” observed Org de Rac’s Sales and Marketing Manager, Bethchen Zaayman, “it is so good to know that Org de Rac is part of a global movement towards healthier wines that are made with respect for the soil and the environment.”

Mikhail Neganov, co-founder of Organic Wines in Prague, Czech Republic and his wife tasted wines at the Org de Rac stand at Vinexpo Bordeaux. They are pictured here with Bethchen Zaayman. Mikhail has placed a first order for Org de Rac wines - these will be shipped to the Czech Republic in July.

Frank's Choice

Org de Rac winemaker, Frank Meaker, might look dangerous in this photograph, but he has been grinning from ear to ear ever since the results of the Merlot Report 2017 were announced at Asara Wine Estate and Hotel in Stellenbosch on June 26.

Frank is so keen for wine lovers to taste the Org de Rac Merlot 2015 that he has come up with a perfect accompaniment: Cassoulet au Piketberg. As you can see, Frank loves to cook and this dish is one of his favourites.

This is what Frank has to say about his unique recipe:

“Cassoulet au Piketberg is an easy dish and you can use a variety of meats to prepare it. Seeing that it’s winter, my choice is for venison and pork rashers. However, a key ingredient is beans and it is important to select the correct beans. Ideally you need to use the “Herenboon”, a white bean that is well known in the Piketberg area and available at the Boland Spar in our town. If these beans are not available in your area, you could use a mixture of black and white speckled beans, or butter beans. Don’t use the yellow “sousbone” if you can help it.

The Herenboon makes the ultimate sousbone. As a child I had the privilege of experiencing Tannie Cecile du Preez’s sousbone. Tannie Cecile, the wife of the late fishing entrepreneur Aap du Preez — a previous employer of and mentor to Nico Bacon, the owner of Org de Rac — was born and bred on the west coast. Her sousbone were beautiful - perfect in shape, almost transparent and tasting slightly sweet, and a little bit sour.

When I worked in the Napa Valley in California, I really began to enjoy beans. I would have beans at breakfast with the Mexican workers. Their beans were hot and spicy, but a meal of beans would give you energy for the entire day.

The beans you select for Cassoulet au Piketberg should be rehydrated 24 hours before you use them. When soaking the beans, change the water three times. The beans will swell to twice their size. Pressure cook the beans for 40 minutes, then remove the water. Cover them with fresh water, add a dash of salt and white balsamic vinegar and cook them for another 40 minutes. The beans should be cooked, but firm to the touch and should not lose their skins.

Classic Cassoulet
Cassoulet is a French dish made from duck portions, pork rashers, fresh sausage and white beans. It is a dish that originates from the Languedoc region in the south of France and is commonly served in the towns of Carcassone and Castelnaudry where it is regarded as an everyday dish.

In South Africa, we are able to give the dish a local flavor with the use of venison, such as springbok shin or venison potjiekos mix - but do not use large cuts of meat because venison has a tendency to become dry.

You will also need some pork rashers (about a third of the quantity of the venison). These should be salted, seasoned with a little chili and soya sauce and kept on one side while you prepare the venison.

The preparation of the venison should begin by washing and drying the meat. Season it with salt, pepper, a dash from the Bo-Kaap - turmeric, cinnamon, cloves, bay leaves and coriander - as well as a dash of balsamic vinegar. Mix the spices with the meat and then cover the meat with a little olive oil. Allow the venison to stand in this marinade for a few hours.

Fry the meat
Fry the venison in olive oil with five stalks of celery and three onions, all of which should be chopped. Add four cloves of crushed roasted garlic, plus two cloves of fresh garlic. Once the meat has browned, add the pork rasher. Let the pork fat mix well with the venison. (If, for health reasons, you are concerned about fat, you can fry the different components of the Cassoulet separately, taking care to limit the amount of fat that makes its way into the dish.)

An earthenware pot
At this point put all the ingredients - beans, venison and pork rashers - into a Cassoulet pot. A cassoulet is a traditional, French earthenware pot, but any type of casserole dish will do.

Layer the ingredients: beans, meats, more beans. Add a dash of Org de Rac Merlot 2015 - it won’t be wasted. Place the lid on the pot and bake in the oven at 180°C. After two hours, add a glug of Org de Rac Pumphouse organic port (Cape Ruby). Cook for another hour and then try to reduce the liquid, making sure that the meat and beans do not dry out.

Serve with a sprinkling of Parmiagiano Reggiano and accompany with a nice butter lettuce leaf salad with avocado, tomato and onion and a light dressing. Belíssimo!”

Frank adds: “Because it is winter, you will need to enjoy your Cassoulet au Piketberg with the right wine. Org de Rac Merlot 2015 complements this dish perfectly. Its full frontal texture on the palate and ripe fruit edging will take your enjoyment of the Cassoulet to another level. The addition of a dash of port wine gives the meal a slightly sweet taste and the wine brings all the flavours together in a mouthwatering experience.”


    Monthly special at Org de Rac

Winter Combo: buy six bottles of Org de Rac Shiraz (750ml) and one bottle of The Old Pumphouse Cape Ruby (500ml) for R450




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