What constitutes as Heritage Wines?

heritage_wines

Well, some are named after people who helped shape the South African wine industry, and some after people who played an important role in the specifically the winery’s history and other just simply after people we admire. Now and then a specific vineyard site is honoured and through that really the people who were responsible for planting it in the first place and those who look after it with dedicated care today. I hope all these people look down at us with gratitude and equal admiration.

I’d like to invite you to take a stroll through the websites of the featured wineries as each of them tells such an interesting story about our history. Some even have a time-line with events important to that specific winery and others simply honour the South African wine history. It’s been over 350 years since the first wines were made in the cape and we can be proud of our wine heritage and look forward to a bright future. I’m sure that some of the people who are responsible for the wines featured here will one day also be honoured by those who will follow in their footsteps.

Anthonij Rupert Cape of Good Hope Altima Sauvignon Blanc 2012
Elandskloof, Overberg R106.50

A range created in recognition of the Cape of Good Hope’s vinous heritage which stretches back more than 350 years to when the first Foverner planted grapes. This project was initiated by Johann Rupert to search for all vineyards in South Africa older than 40 years. The objective of this project is to encourage farmers to protect these vineyards, or pieces of history, by offering a price that would make it more attractive than selling it off to some co-operative, where it will be blended away with a bulk of other grapes. The “Cape of Good Hope” project strives to vinify these old blocks separately and attempts to express the terroir of these vineyards through the wine.

Altima is situated in an isolated valley north of Villiersdorp and is surrounded by a steep mountain range that rises 1km from the valley floor. During winter months these mountains are typically covered with snow, coupled with the elevation of 600 to 700m this equates to a very cool climate. This unique terroir produce wines with a high natural acidity and upfront aromas.

The vineyards produce an intense Sauvignon Blanc with a fresh expression of gooseberry, citrus and freshly cut grass.

Nederburg The Anchorman Chenin Blanc 2012
Stellenbosch R105.50

Winemaker, Razvan Macici has created a selection of inidiviually named, limited-edition, gourmet wines to honour some of the major figures in the South African winemaking history and who have been a source of inspiration to him and formed an integral part of the history of Nederburg. The call it the Heritage Heroes collection and each label is specially designed with the person who it honours in mind.

This wine is in honour of the founder of Nederburg, Philippus Wolvaart, who bought the farm in 1791 and planted Chenin Blanc amongst other varietals. He had the vision and courage to tame a wilderness and grow great wine.  The grapes for this wine was sourced from old bush-vine vineyards in Darling, Durbanville and Paarl. The grapes went through an interesting vinificatioin in that different parcels were treated in different ways to ensure richness, yet freshness. The final product shows real complexity with notes of peach, apricont, oranges and bruised apple and provide super drinking pleasure.

La Motte Pierneef Shiraz Viognier 2009
Franschhoek R222.00

At La Motte there are a few things referring to Pierneef like the restaurant, Shiraz studio and of course the museum with many artworks from the local artist, for whom the Rupert family has great admiration and with whom they share a love or the South African land. Jacob Hendrik Pierneef was born on Pretoria in 1886. During 1900 the family moved to Holland, where works of old masters made a lasting impression on him. On their return to South Africa the family travelled the country extensively and with this he developed an intimate knowledge of the landscape and architecture which found expression in his work later. The museum at La Motte boasts an extensive collection of his work and they pay tribute to this master through art, wine and food.

Grapes for this range of wines are obtained from site-specific organically grown vineyards in selected terroirs. This wine was inspired by the great Côte Rôtie style in the northern Rhône area. It is a unique blend of white and red wine. The flamboyant flavour of the Viognier is a lively complement to the spiciness of the Shiraz. This wine is a blend of 90% Shiraz and 10% Viognier. The Shiraz component is from Bot River in the Walker Bay region (70%) and Franschhoek (20%) while the Viognier (10%) originates from Franschhoek. The nose reflects black cherry and cranberry fruit, with liquorice and white pepper spice. The splash of Viognier contributes with rose petal perfume. Firm tannins in the young wine promise reward should the wine be aged from six to ten years from vintage.

Hermanuspietersfontein Die Arnoldus 2009
Sondagskloof, Stanford R251.50

The coastal town of Hermanus was first named in 1855 as Hermanuspietersfontein and this winery pay homage to and re-live the origin of the village through their brand which we all have come to know as HPF1855. But where does the name come from? In the early 1800’s farmers in the Hemel-en-Aarde valley wanted their children to be schooled in Dutch therefore Master Hermanus Pieters was hired as the farm teacher.

However he was often remunerated in sheep, which he would graze at a spring under Milkwood trees near the sea. Hence the presence of sheep on their labels and all the quirky marketing material and their wine labels are all in Afrikaans, which by the way is a more widely spoken language in South African than English. The village was only named after him long after his passing and in the early 1900’s the postmaster shortened the name to Hermanus. Probably to help the Anglos with pronunciation problems.

Die Arnoldus is the flagship wine from winemaker Bartho Eksteen and is a full-bodied five varietal Bordeaux style blend. Full flavoured, rich and rounded with the structured to last at least 8 years provided that it’s stored under the correct conditions. As they say, there is always someone in the family imposing his personality on the others – with good reason as he is usually unswerving and knows exactly what he wants from life. That’s Arnoldus – a man with gravitas.

Simonsig Frans Malan 2010
Stellenbosch R209.00

Since French Huguenot Jacques Malan first set foot in the Cape Winelands in 1688, the Malan family of Simonsig, one of South Africa’s most reputable wine producers, has leaped to acclaimed heights in pioneering wine excellence. The late Frans Malan, beloved patriarch of the Malan Family and one of the pioneers of the South African wine industry, was not only a craftsman of superior wines, but also introduced numerous Simonsig ‘firsts’, cementing the estate’s stately legacy in the Cape Winelands. Frans Malan’s groundbreaking innovations include South Africa’s first Méthode Cap Classique, Kaapse Vonkel, more than 40 years ago. This bottle fermented sparkling wine first produced on Simonsig Estate in 1971, is made in the style of French champagne. He was also a co-founder of the Stellenbosch Wine Routes.

In 1991 Johan Malan experimented the first time with a Cabernet Sauvignon Pinotage blend for the Cape Winemakers Guild. This was also a time when there was much debate around what can be called a typical South African blend. After the success of the first vintage they decided to continue with this wine and to honour the founder and late patriarch of the Malan family.

Rich layers of plum and redcurrant fruit is laced with spiciness and fynbos aromas. This wine has a track record of great aging potential and over time the rich tannins will soften and result in superior drinking pleasure.

Muratie Ben Prins Cape Vintage 2009
Stellenbosch R183.00

A visit to Muratie farm feels like a heritage fieldtrip, where even the cobwebs from the past few decades are still intact and the spiders keep an eye on the paintings by G.P. Canitz. The emphasis on and respect for history is tangible and one only needs to meet Rijk Melck once on his own turf to get the feeling that you need a fireplace and a good bottle of wine to sit down for a long evening of stories from the past. Muratie is also important in SA wine history in that the first Pinot Noir grapes were planted on this farm G.P. Canitz. Canitz’s daughter inherited the farm and her husband was the talented wine and port-maker, Ben Prins till they sold the farm in 1987 to Ronnie Melck, whose son, Rijk Melck is now CEO of this historic farm.

Ben Prins was as unique as the wines he produced. A hard-working, nononsense kind of a man – quiet, contemplative and exceptionally particular – he was both a perfectionist and a traditionalist. Any “unnecessary novelties” like shoes were “verboten” (he became endearingly known as the Barefoot Winemaker). And because of his dedication to perfection, it was said of Ben that he knew wine like the back of his hand … or indeed, his foot! Muratie Cape Vintage Port is produced from a vineyard planted way back in 1965.

The varietals (Tinta Barocca, Tinta Roritz, Tinta Francesca and Souzao) are all planted in the same block. This block is harvested at once so this “field blend” is unique to the Muratie Cape Vintage.

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