Niel Bester

Cellarmaster
Plaisir De Merle
Niel Bester - Cellarmaster Plaisir de Merle. As the first and only winemaker at Plaisir de Merle, Niel Bester has set a difficult precedent for future winemakers to follow.

Niel Bester - Cellarmaster Plaisir de Merle

As the first and only winemaker at Plaisir de Merle, Niel Bester has set a difficult precedent for future winemakers to follow.

The exclusive single estate's label has been producing exceptional quality wine since inception; which has been recognised by international gold medals, airline selections, top ratings, and a liberal sprinkling of four-star ratings awarded to the range in the John Platter South African Wine Guides.

Bester was taken under the wing of Dr Paul Pontallier, director of Chateau Margaux, early on in his winemaking career, when he worked under Pontallier's tutelage during the harvest he spent working in Bordeaux.

Dr. Pontallier has also been a major influence on his winemaking style at Plaisir de Merle due to Pontallier's involvement as a consultant to the cellar's development project.

Bester, a BSc graduate in oenology from the University of Stellenbosch, was appointed cellarmaster at the newly established cellar at Plaisir de Merle in 1992, after a stint as winemaker at Nederburg from 1990.

"There are always opportunities to improve on quality; there is no time to become complacent with what you have achieved". With this motto Niel strives to continue the standard that was set from the start with the Plaisir de Merle wines. In his efforts to do so he has undertaken various study tours to Australia, California, France, New Zealand and Washington State.

His conversancy with the Plaisir de Merle vineyards, as well as his classical training and relationship with Pontallier have led him to produce well structured, food-friendly, elegant yet complex wines, which, although made for earlier drinking, have excellent ageing potential.

As a marathon runner, Bester compares the challenge of winemaking to those of long distance running. "its about training to tackle the obstacles. Focus is paramount in the planning and execution. You set the goal and then go out and meet it". The cellar designed for low impact winemaking with the accent on technique and not technology, gives him ample opportunity to test his dexterity and flexibility.

Niel is member of various organisations and wine clubs. He is also the convener of the Cabernet Sauvignon panel at the South African National Wine Show Society.