One of the things I love about the South African wine industry is the basic common sense of the people involved. There are no pretensions. They call themselves wineboers which means, simply, wine farmers. This welcome lack of airs and graces is refreshing and contrasts nicely with a lot of the arty-crafty nonsense which too often surrounds wine. After all, it is a basic agricultural product. This wholesome, reasonable approach is reflected in the 98 Diemersdal Estate merlot, now in sale at Wellcome supermarkets at a no-nonsense $78. This is a pleasant, soft red that goes ideally with lamb chops and sausages; open this at a barbecue and you will be popular. The grapes come from one of the cooler climates in Cape Province, with cooling sea breezes moderating the long, hot autumns. The vines are 11 years old, planted on a 13-hectare sloping plot. Picked by hand, the fruit ferments in big open concrete tanks, spending five days on the skins. This is why you have got such a gorgeous deep colour. Ageing three months in oak barrels helps give the soft taste and aroma. For a big red, this has a comparatively low 12.5 per cent alcohol content. There is a companion white, a nicely made sauvignon blanc, at $58. This is a pale, crisp wine with a refreshing young taste. It is made in stainless steel so comes with a natural fruity flavour. It is ideal with salad or roast chicken.