There’s just one day to go before Heritage month comes to an end, and I still have several new wines to report on that reached me before this unique trio did. But, because these are so connected to our Cape history in terms of viticulture, architecture and hospitality – not to forget the Matieland aspect - I am breaking my self-imposed rule to write about them first, before September has past.
Local and international travellers everywhere rave about Lanzerac – in terms of fine fare, iconic wines, or simply as one of the most beautiful of the many historic wine estates in Stellenbosch. Its cellar has been renowned for perennially popular rosé, for pioneer pinotage, and more recently, for fine chardonnay, among others. Now cellarmaster Wynand Lategan is offering the world of wine a new and maiden trio entitled the Keldermeester Versameling, and this cellarmaster’s collection introduces several innovative touches – both the minimalistic front label and more informative back label use only Afrikaans, the heavy bottles are sealed with wax in good heritage style, and the contents consists of cultivars and combinations not commonly found today.
One gets the sense that winemaker Wynand had a good time creating these wines, limited editions, each one of which is linked to a renowned personality and to the University of Stellenbosch.
The single white is a 2016 Pinot Blanc sourced from a single vineyard in the Jonkershoek Valley, making it something of a rarity in itself, as this grape occupies just 0.01% of vineyard area in south Africa. Its appealing name, BERGPAD, refers to the famous mountain path from the university sports grounds at Coetzenburg toward Lanzerac. The Italian varietal produces an appealing summer wine, this one at 14% alcohol levels on the high side, but which adds body: there is a slight hint of oiliness, reminiscent of Semillon as well. I did not get tasting notes, so don’t know details of the age of the vines and other factors. Just over 1 000 bottles were produced, selling at R190.
Wynand repeats viticultural history with his 2016 blend entitled PROF – it’s a tribute to the renowned academic Prof Abraham Perold who created Pinotage by crossing Cinsaut, then called Hermitage, with Pinot Noir back in 1925. Why, we are not sure, but today the result, along with Chenin blanc, are the two cultivars that overseas gurus are naming as the iconic South African pair producing the most exciting and pleasing wines . Prof Perold cultivated the first Pinotage vines, but, sadly, never tasted the maiden bottled wine. Today’s blend of 60% Cinsaut and 40% Pinot fills just more than 1 000 bottles, and sells for R310, which is not a bad price for recreated history in a bottle.
And finally, we have DOK, a 2015 Malbec sourced from a single vineyard in the Jonkershoek valley. This diminutive term, usually of affection, refers to a doctor and was always used back in the last century when Afrikaners were talking about legendary rugby giant Dr Danie Craven. He regularly visited Lanzerac with his dog Bliksem in tow, and I remember my mother revealing, in a rare moment about her youth, that she and he went on a couple of dates at some stage. DOK, just over 1 000 bottles, sells at R280 from the farm.
The bottles are numbered and signed by Lategan, the stock is limited to the farm, selling from the Lanzerac tasting room, while members of the Lanzerac Wine Club also have access to this trio, which is going to make a talking point for summer affairs this festive season, and a nostalgic one for oldtimers who know and revere the historic heart of Stellenbosch.