Thelema Estate Impresses with the New Release of Their Famed Merlot Reserve 2018…

The message seems to be getting out – the 2018 vintage in the Western Cape produced some seriously good wines. Or should the emphasis be on some of South Africa’s top producers who produced some very impressive new releases? Either way, the final results in bottle are impressing the critics and when the new edition of the South African wine bible, the Platter South African Wine Guide is released, I predict that the 2018 vintage will boast a broad new array of vinous treasures.

I recently started reviewing the various 2018 releases from one of my favourite Stellenbosch estates, Thelema Mountain Vineyards, and once again, the final results are head turning, none more so than the new Merlot Reserve.

Thelema Estate Merlot Reserve 2018, WO Stellenbosch, 14 Abv.

After the super impressive 2017 Reserve Merlot, who could possibly have thought that the 2018 vintage would serve up such a classic Merlot expression. The aromatics are rich and intense with complex notes of violets and sweet lavender, freshly collected sea shells, sweet red and black berries, blue berry compote, wet tobacco, graphite and subtle sweet sappy notes. The palate is medium to full-bodied and also boasts a pronounced maritime salinity supported by leafy black cherry notes, roasted coffee beans, black tea, tangy rose hips and spicy black plum nuances. This Reserve Merlot shows the power and density of a cool climate Cabernet Sauvignon with the suave, plump mineral tannins of a serious Right Bank Bordeaux Merlot icon wine. Concentrated, muscular but fleshy and finely balanced, this is yet another stand out red wine from one of South Africa’s true first growth estates and should evolve beautifully in the coming years. Drink from 2022-2038+

(Wine Safari Score: 95+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

4 thoughts on “Thelema Estate Impresses with the New Release of Their Famed Merlot Reserve 2018…

  1. Hey Greg. been meaning to reach out.

    I read this post with interest, not least because I was hopeful this wine was readily avail in the uk. Alas. Not even at the store you work with?

    On another note. Someone showed me this today…

    £5! What is going on with buyers who only hit the £5 (and what could you possibly get for that) and then the £25 mark when it comes to SA wine. Nothing in between? George Dalla Cia is a friend and I was bemoaning this fact to him last week given his wine is again being marketed here… at £30! The host of great French and Spanish wine from £13-£20 renders all this SA wine redundant… unless its just me shopping in the wrong spots?

    Btw, really enjoy your (free!!!!!!whohoooo Jancis!) posts, thanks!



    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Mark
      The Thelema is only just being released in SA so the 2018 will hit the Uk only next year at the earliest. Handford will surely sell it.

      I also saw the IWSC £5 winner from ASDA. It’s a decent bottle and no doubt some quality juice has been used. I don’t by wines from Supermarkets as a matter of principle, preferring to support indies, but occasionally the do stock a bargain like this.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi mark, firstly I agree – Greg is a great SA source and his comments are on point.

    Greg needs to promote Handford, who stock rare /finest choices but I think u need to expand your search to find value /quality SA wines available in uk. Ok I live in CT but my family is all in uk so I look to buy regularly online for them. Try using wine searcher (sometimes it throws world class wines at much cheaper prices than we get in the cape e,g, £15 recently for a Buitenwerwacting Christine 👌) also perhaps join the wine society, a non profit group – who buy the likes of meerlust en primeur and sell their red for ~11,50 a bottle, under 20 for rubicon. Great wine co sometimes have excellent specials on thelema. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for your comments Bruce. I try and put some distance between Handford Wines and my website as a sign of impartiality. At this point, I prefer to endorse certain great wines / vintages and producers than any specific retail channels. Handford does indeed have one of the best selections of current and vintage South African wines in the UK and like the Wine Society, offers a lot of the countries greatest wines pre-release or pre-shipment at very competitive prices. I’d suggest any keen South African wine buyer sign up to my private client offers at

    Handford does tend to focus on the premium SA producers purely because that is where the best and most exciting wines are emerging, but also because you can’t be all things to all people and be a long term success. I’m pleased that my reviews are quoted widely across the trade in both SA, EU, USA and the UK… so I feel this is down to my impartiality, honesty and Non-inflated ratings (even though I do focus on Fine Wines around the world).

    Liked by 1 person

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