Grande Provence launches first Merlot

Grande Provence, the landmark Franschhoek heritage wine estate, has given Merlot its rightful place with the launch of a new single varietal wine offering.

GP winemaker Thys Smit

Having earned its stripes as a key component in the formidable Grande Provence Bordeaux-style flagship blend, Merlot now stands tall as a varietal wine in the premium range.

“Our Grande Provence Merlot started out as part of the blend of The Grande Provence Red, and is still a definitive variety of this signature wine. With its fruit purity, its elegance and complexity, it has evolved into an elegant, standalone wine in our portfolio,” says winemaker Thys Smit.

The youthful, yet classic Grande Provence Merlot 2018 was crafted from high-lying vineyards in the famous ‘golden triangle’ in the Helderberg region, home to some of the finest Stellenbosch reds.

“The vineyard is fanned by lovely cooling sea breezes, which leads to smaller berry formation with a lot of concentration. It allows us to extract and develop an elegant tannin structure,” adds Smit, who has a particular soft spot for Merlot.

“It can be a straight forward easy drinking wine or it can star in an opulent Bordeaux blend. I never realised what it took to make such a wine. With its versatility and elegance comes a bit of a rebellious temperament with a bunch of mixed signals and mixed analysis that can give you sleepless nights and plenty of grey hairs, but in the end it turns into something beautiful,” he adds. 

The Grande Provence Merlot shows wonderful intensity. Expect an earthy array of vibrant dark cherries and raspberries with hints of wild herbs, tomato leaf and dark chocolate enlivened by touches of cinnamon, cloves and orange peel.

Soft and subtle, this smooth, medium bodied wine is best enjoyed with herb-crusted lamb and rich meat dishes. It is very approachable in its youth and will reward even more with careful cellaring.

Grande Provence Merlot 2018 sells at the cellar door at R170 per bottle. For added convenience, the wine can be purchased online from

More about winemaker Thys Smit

Thys Smit took on the leading role as winemaker and viticulturist at Grande Provence Heritage Wine Estate in 2018 after having joined the cellar team in 2015 as assistant winemaker. In 2019 he was nominated as a finalist for two Grande Provence white wines in the Young Winemaker of the Year Awards.

A BSc graduate in molecular biology and biotechnology at the University of Stellenbosch, he began his winemaking career completely by accident. While applying for a laboratory position, his passion for winemaking was ignited by a life changing job opportunity in a wine cellar during harvest time. In 2014, after working three vintages at Lourensford Estate, Thys enrolled in a training program in the USA where he worked at Roth Estate focusing on Chardonnay and Bordeaux-style blends.

His favourite wine is a well-aged Bordeaux-style blend.

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