The diverse terroir creates an interchange in climatic conditions, the wet winters and moderate summers, together with the fertile soil, supplying the ideal conditions for growing noble cultivars with structure, finesse and sophistication.
Niel has been crafting Plaisir de Merle’s wines since 1993 and believes that his passion for winemaking is evident in each bottle. He cherishes the richness offered from the extraordinary terroir, and from the cellar produces wines that are elegant and complex, honouring the legacy of winemaking at the estate.
He utilises his intimate knowledge of the vineyards to create a true sense of place in the wines that he crafts. By harnessing the unique terroir of the Simondium area he is able to capture the story of the valley, watched over by a monolithic mountain, in every bottle of wine.
After graduating from the University of Stellenbosch in Oenology and Viticulture, he spent four years as a winemaker for SFW (now Distell). He joined Nederburg as a red winemaker for three years before being appointed as cellar master at Plaisir de Merle.
He has travelled the world in order to gain more vinous knowledge, to places such as Australia, New Zealand, California, and Washington State. But the most fundamental time spent abroad was when, early on in his winemaking career, he worked a harvest at Château Mârgaux in Bordeaux under the seminal influence of Dr Paul Pontallier.
“When not in the cellar you’ll find me outdoors be it by the seaside, on a mountain walk or run. One can almost compare the challenge of winemaking to that of long-distance running. It’s about training to tackle the obstacles and the focus required for planning and execution. You set the goal and then go out and meet it.”