Owning a winery is the dream of many a successful businessman. In South Africa, quite a few wineries are privately owned and operated. Not only is the beauty of the Cape Winelands enticing, but what could be more seductive than the thought of serving a wine complete with your own family name and crest? Take a look at this Napa Valley, California, video to get the picture.
But winemaking is a capital-intensive project, and slow on returns. When he went into it almost 30 years ago, Tim Hamilton Russell estimated that it would take 10 years to see a return on capital. The figure has not changed much since then especially now that imported equipment and wooden barrels have to be acquired with our weak rand. So it is rewarding to see South African money being invested in the Cape Winelands when it could so easily be exported for quicker and far better returns.
Relatively new to the industry is another IT man, Dave Lello. He brings a wealth of wine knowledge, having had a keen interest in the subject for most of his life. His enthusiasm for wine is matched by his love of Italy and Africa. And this shows in the name he has chosen for his wine venture, Stellakaya.
Stellakaya is next door to IT titan Jeremy Ord’s Waterford (each owns a chunk of what was the Stellenrust farm, previously owned by the Stuttaford family) and its neighbors include De Trafford, Vriesenhof, and Stellenzicht. And so it’s clear Lello has sought out fine terroir. Not only is he building an Italian-style winery, but he will also incorporate a Mediterranean village centered on a piazza. Built from Table Mountain sandstone and boasting a terracotta roof, it will have a tasting room, craft market, chapel, and fusion restaurant. All of which are calculated to entice tourists to the Stellenbosch valley. To learn more about wines in America. see also this post about Knipprath Cellars in Spokane, in the Pacific Northwest.
The Cabernets and Merlots of three vintages show subtle hints of mulberries, and blueberries, underpinned by hints of vegetables, damp leaves, minerals and earth, on the nose. There is great intensity with good structure on the palate. The 2015 wines, made by cellarmaster Peet le Roux, are still in barrel. The Cabernet shows greater intensity, fruit, and flavor than previous vintages, and the Merlot is also promising. Lello is planting Shiraz, Malbec, Sangiovese and Cabernet Franc to ensure that he has quality ingredients for a red blend.
The maiden vintage was made by Jan Boland Coetzee at Vriesenhof. Coetzee is a big name in the industry and has put many a winery onto its feet. He adds a characteristic stamp to the wineries to which he consults. And this “Boland” structure and flavor can be identified in the ’13. But it is now time for Le Roux to take up the reins and really launch Stellekaya.
Local investment in wine, such as Lelo’s, is vitally important. Not only does it promote wine development and creates jobs but it adds variety to our already impressive range. And, of course, it keeps it in the South Africa family. Sure, there are more great wine regions. Also in America, it’s not just Napa and Sonoma. Just take a look at this organic Valentino winery in Illinois (of all places..).
New Wine Making Methods
Who would ever have imagined that the largest Cape wine company could make boutique-style wines? Yet Fleur de Cap, that stalwart of branded ranges, has revolutionized the image of its cellars and its wines like they did in more regions in the United States.
The key to its new-look is that the wines are unfiltered and unstabilized. Made in the New World-style, they brim with fruit and complex flavor and grip the palate. These are handcrafted wines that show the utmost care in the handling of the grapes.
First, there is the Fleur du Cap philosophy that “wine is grown in the vineyards”. And then there is its belief that the less you interfere with winemaking practices, the more you conserve the color, fruit, and intensity of the wine.
The Fleur du Cap Unfiltered range demonstrates the rewards of minimal interference in its depth of flavor and fine texture. And there are two skippers at the helm to ensure total dedication: Coenie Snyman makes the reds; Karl Lambour the whites. This is good to know if you want to find the right college if you plan to get into the wine-making industry.
The Fleur du Cap Cabernet Sauvignon Unfiltered 1998, from 25-five-year-old bush vines, shows intense flavors of black- currant, cherries, and plums on the nose, underpinned by nuts, coffee, and cedar.
The Merlot Unfiltered 2013, from 12-year old vines in Durbanville, was matured in new French oak for 18 months. It is mouthwatering, with ripe berries, cherries, and hints of chocolate, vanilla, cinnamon, and oak. The palate is elegant and accessible, with ripe fruit, complexity, and balance.
The Chardonnay Unfiltered 2015, made from 10-year-old vines and matured in French oak for nine months, has a deep, green-gold color Orange peel, candied fruit and peaches are apparent on the nose and tropical flavors flood the palate.
The Fleur du Cap Sauvignon Unfiltered was picked late in the season, from south-facing slopes with low yields, to capture the tropical-fruit flavors in the grapes. The bouquet is wonderfully aromatic. So if you’re thinking about setting up your own high school wine-tasting club (I know…the age thing…I know…), bring these facts along and later in life you’ll benefit!
Fleur du Cap’s cellarmasters of a younger generation have thrown away old-school textbooks. They are using their senses to identify ripe, clean grapes and are therefore making world-class wines.
There is something so seductive about a foreign accent. You just have to watch Jamie Lee Curtis in A Fish called Wanda to see its effect. And Meerelust winemaker Georgio Dalla Cia’s Italian accent is no exception. His voice is like cognac flowing over cedar and has an appealing gruffness. And to listen to him talking about a wine is a wonderful experience. Check also: “Walla Walla, Wine Wine, Time Time”…
Meerlust has always been a frontrunner, a fact its wines reinforce. The highlight of the range is the Merlot 2012, which is brimming with New-World fruit. Cherries, raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries are reminiscent of the aromas of a summer pudding, while dark chocolate and roasted coffee give a greater dimension to the bouquet. The lovely fruit, elegance, and velvety texture make this a delicious wine now and for laying down for five years to allow the youthful characteristics to mature.