It’s true the Merlot grape hasn’t quite provided some of our finest vinous moments in the past, but local producers have done much to change the perception among even the most critical of imbibers. When it’s good, it’s very good (the reverse being equally true), and there are Merlots to suit a variety of palates – those seeking something posh and sophisticated they can say lots of clever things about, or just something smooth and yummy to sip and enjoy – as well as depths of pockets. So it’s great when a Merlot comes your way that is just plain delicious and drinkable at a perfectly acceptable price point – and with an additional feel-good factor to boot. Better known for its truly excellent Sauvignon Blanc, Lomond near Gansbaai in the Overberg has ventured into red territory very successfully with its Syrah. The cool sea breezes that wash in from the Atlantic coupled with interesting soil profiles lend amazing character to these wines. All that really needs to be said about the Lomond Merlot 2011 (R86.50) is that it goes down a treat. Smooth, well rounded and juicy with ripe plum and black cherry fruit, dare we say it also subtly hints at the fynbos that grows on the beautiful land. That other x-factor is Lomond’s strong environmentally conscious approach to the cultivation and making of its wine. Part of the Cape Legends group, it is a member of the Biodiversity & Wine Initiative (BWI) and the Walker Bay Fynbos Conservancy. And if you’re headed out near Gansbaai, Stanford or Hermanus, don’t miss a chance to taste the full line-up of Lomond wines at the tasting room at eco-retreat Farm 215 – one of our favourite country boltholes.