Once again, Annetjie Hopkins proved to be a most able and charming ambassador for Nederburg, taking our hands and guiding us through the intricacies of the selection in front of us. The tasting was conducted in a warm and conversational style, and our host discussed the wines with us, never lecturing, which definitely added to the experience.
Having a preference for reds, the stand out wines we tasted were “The Brewmaster” from the Heritage Heroes range and the Ingenuity Italian blend, both of which delivered tons of flavour and body, pungent and muscular wines which entertain from beginning to end.
The white wines didn’t disappoint either, we tasted a sublime The Winemasters Sauvignon Blanc with a hint of gooseberry and a Nobel Late Harvest dessert wine that revolutionised the category and created an international auction.
One thing that is consistent, and that reflects in all of the wines is the touch of Andrea Freeborough, the Cellarmaster. Andrea has a playful, innovative approach to wine, always keen to explore new ways to do old things, and her experience and skill is evident in everything Nederburg produces.
Most of the wines we tasted were available to order for selected international locations
We were greeted at the visitor centre with a glass of chilled bubbly (Cuvee Brut) and browsed along the beautifully laid out information area and thoroughly enjoyed the air conditioning, a welcome respite from the 37 degree heat. Shortly we were introduced to Annetjie Hopkins, our guide for the tour and the tasting. Annetjie is amazing, so knowledgeable, warm, funny and welcoming, she took us and 5 others in tow and off we were.
We will highlight a couple of key points that we found fascinating, and leave the rest up to you to go and explore. Every part of the process of wine making is represented and actively engaged in on this fully working winery, from seed to vine to barrel to bottle. The entire process spins off other industries from grape seed oil manufacture, composting of plant waste and repurposing of barrels to be used for brandy ageing, that there is virtually no waste. Generations upon generations of wine masters and their families have thrown themselves passionately into crafting beautiful wines here, and it shows.
The smell in the main cellar is something magical, almost church like, with all the natural wood and history ingrained in the structure itself. Annetjie explained the differences between all the types of barrels (German, French, Romanian and much more) and we had a peek in the wine masters “playground” where new methods and varietals are blended and perfected.
*Sidenote, take time to admire the craftsmanship in the elaborate carvings on selected wine barrels on display.
Discover the best of the Cape Winelands, Nederburg.
We recently had the good fortune to be invited to the Nederburg Wine Estate, where they rolled out the burgundy carpet to us and took us on a cellar tour, a tasting and lunch at the amazing Red Table restaurant.
This week we will showcase all three of these activities at the estate of this icon of South African wine. Nederburg is synonymous with South African wine, and has a place in the hearts of most locals, for good reason.
South African wine has a history dating back to 1659, but we will “fast forward” to 1791 when Philippus Wolvaart spent 5600 guilder for the parcel of land between the Berg and Palmiet rivers. This was the first pebble in what was to become a landslide of internationally award winning wines, wrought with ingenuity and passion, from the heart of this lush Eden in Paarl. He immediately recognised this “far flung” location (66,5 km from Cape Town, two days cart ride at the time) for its potential in viticulture, and built the foundations for an epic journey of grapes, discovery and wine.
Spier is well worth the drive (29 km’s from Cape Town), and even though the area of Stellenbosch and the Helderberg offers many other surprises, you may want to pencil in quite a bit of time for this multi-faceted location. This is a wine farm and conference facility, eagle sanctuary and concert venue as well as a hotel, craft market and spa with richly appointed grounds. There is even a kids clubhouse, for the 2-12’s which entertains the children with developmentally appropriate activities such as feather arts, icing biscuits, pizza-making and farm walks. You have 4 restaurants to choose from, with great farm to table menus and amazing wine pairings. If you are in the mood to explore a little, you can also pick up a pre-packed picnic of local delicacies, brimming with pasture-reared cold cuts, farmhouse cheeses, homemade chutneys and pâtés, breads, fresh salads and various delectable baked treats. The Spier Estate has received numerous awards over time both from Condé Nast for its’ hotel and from various organisations for its’ wine and as a wine tourism destination. Be sure to visit Eagle Encounters, they do sterling work rehabilitating birds of prey, and you will be amazed by their falconry displays, as well as a variety of reptiles and bunnies for the kids to pet and interact with. Visit their website (below) to see the full span of their offering as well as individual booking and contact details.
It’s so hard to pinpoint just one Wine Estate in the Western Cape, but in terms of historical depth, fine wine and an amazing restaurant (Cuvée), Simonsig has a lot to offer. A 45 minute drive outside of Cape Town takes you to the vibrant wine and student town of Stellenbosch, beautifully lush and green, with many a north facing slope. The country's first official wine route was opened by Frans Malan of Simonsig, and the estate is currently being run by his 2nd and 3rd generation descendants. Frans Malan was also the first to pioneer MCC (Methode Cap Classique) sparkling wines in the Champagne tradition. Simonsig offers a large selection of terroir-driven wines, seasonal dishes and flavours as well as a fascinating cross section of what it takes to be a sustainability-first and environmentally conscious wine estate these days. Keep an eye on their calendar, with opera evenings at the restaurant and First Fizzday (the first Thursday of every month) celebrating Kaapse Vonkel complemented by fresh cape oysters, live music and the stunning Simonsig Mountains overlooking the proceedings.