Raise a toast to Merlot

Today’s International Merlot Day … cheers.

Merlot is, hands-down,  the crowd-pleaser of the wine world. With its luscious dark and red fruit notes, soft, sensual, velvety texture and approachable style, it’s also one of the most food-friendly wines on the market.

We’re celebrating International #MerlotDay with a bottle of Muratie Alberta Annemarie Canitz Merlot 2017, honouring one of the original female pioneers in the wine industry.

To enjoy it at its best, we’re going to serve it alongside a dish created by Annatjie Melek (foodie legend and chatelaine of Muratie), who shared her Mushroom Risotto recipe with us. And to make things extra special, before you tuck in, read the story behind the wine (all Muratie wines have a story worth sharing).

The wine

Muratie’s Alberta Annemarie Canitz Merlot 2017 has all the hallmarks of a classic Merlot, with ripe plums and earthy notes, luscious dark berry fruit and notes of cocoa, cinnamon, oak spice and toasted hazelnuts. It’s full-bodied and rich is available at the estate, online at and at your local wine store, for around R180.


Serves four.

You’ll need:

  • 20g dried porcini mushrooms
  • 1 litre vegetable or chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 375g risotto rice (arborio, vialone, nano or carnaroli)
  • 250g mushrooms, sliced
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • 45g Parmesan, grated
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped parsley

To make:  

Soak the porcini in 500ml boiling water for 30 minutes. Drain, retaining the liquid. Chop the porcini mushrooms and pass the liquid through a fine sieve. Put the stock in a saucepan, bring to the boil and then maintain at a low simmer.

Heat the olive oil and butter in a Iarge wide heavy-based saucepan. Cook the onion and garlic until softened but not browned.  Add the rice and reduce the heat to 1ow. Season and stir briefly to thoroughly coat the rice. Toss in the fresh mushrooms and nutmeg. Season and cook, stirring, for 1-2 minutes. Add the porcini and their liquid, increase the heat and cook until the liquid has been absorbed.

Stir in a ladleful of stock and cook over moderate heat, stirring continuously. When the stock has been absorbed, stir in another ladleful. Continue like this for about 20 minutes, until all the stock has been added and the rice is al dente. (You may not need to use all the stock, or you may need a little extra.) Remove from the heat and stir in the Parmesan and parsley. Season and serve with a glass of Muratie Alberta Annemarie Merlot 2017!

The Story

At Muratie, all the wines are named after the remarkable personalities from their rich, centuries-old heritage. The Merlot honours Alberta Annemarie Canitz (fondly known as Annemie), a feisty pioneer who became one of the first female wine farm owners in the country.  It all began in 1926 when Annemie and her father, famous German artist and bon vivant George Paul Canitz, were out horseback riding when they happened upon an old, neglected manor house, under beautiful old oak trees, which had sadly fallen into disrepair. They both fell instantly in love with the charm of the place and bought it, making it their mission to renovate and replant the old farm and restore it to its former grandeur.  At Muratie George Paul Canitz did what he loved best: winemaking, painting, horse-riding and hosting merry parties. His greatest fame came from being the first ever Pinot Noir producer in the country, with the help of prominent viticulturist, Professor Abraham Perold (who created Pinotage).

Sharing George Paul Canitz’s devotion to all things Muratie and having lived on the farm for more than 30 years assisting her father, it was Annemie who inherited Muratie when he died in 1958. Strong and independent, she ran the farm competently on her own for almost 30 years with the help of winemaker Ben Prins, the barefoot winemaker, after whom Muratie’s Cape Vintage is named. Fiercely protective of Muratie’s legacy, she honoured the estate with love and passion, keeping everything exactly the way it was in her father’s time – the cellar, the manor house, the art studio he built from bricks made on the farm, and his famous ‘kneipzimmer’ (drinking den) – everything is still very much the same today. Following in her father’s footsteps, Annemie continued to make wine and ride her horse well into her 80s, eventually only stopping, she insisted, ‘because the horse is too old.’

At the advanced age of 87 and having no descendants, Annemie was looking for suitable successor, and no one was more perfect than Ronnie Melck. A direct descendant of the legendary Martin Melck (who together with his descendants, owned Muratie for 134 years), Ronnie had nurtured a 30-year-long dream of returning Muratie to the Melck fold. He had first come across the enchanting historic estate and its charismatic owner, George Canitz, as a student buying wine for his ‘koshuis’ dance. After George’s death, Ronnie visited Annemie on many occasions to procure her much sought-after grapes for Stellenbosch Farmers Winery (the country’s largest wine and spirit company at the time). Annemie was so taken with Ronnie that 37 years later, in 1987, it was Ronnie she phoned to offer him Muratie, knowing her beloved Muratie would be in the right hands. The sale was sealed with a promise that Ronnie would keep Muratie exactly as it was at the time. Thanks to the Melck family’s passionate guardianship, this memorable legacy lives on at Muratie, where time has largely stood still, where the unique old-world ambience is almost tangible.


If you’re heading to Stellenbosch these holidays, Muratie’s rich heritage is reason enough to pay a visit to this historic farm. But there’s also an abundance of events and activities at the estate to tempt, including …  

  • Wine tasting and wine and chocolate pairings in the enchanting tasting room
  • Authentic farm breakfasts and lunches at the Muratie Farm Kitchen
  • Wine, food and music festivals for the whole family
  • Amazing trails/events for mountain biking, trail running and hiking including a brand-new trail centre
  • Exhibitions of contemporary art and culture at the MOK Gallery located in Ansela van de Caab’s house
  • Accommodation in George Paul Canitz’s original art studio
  • Event curation in an exquisite marquee with panoramic views, or on Muratie’s verdant terraces beneath the ancient oak trees. The Muratie Canvas offers a stylish blank slate to create the event of a lifetime.

Details:  Knorhoek Road, Stellenbosch · · 021 865 2330 ·

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