Both are magnificent examples of aging beautifully, continuing to develop grace and style while presenting elegance and highlighting impressive complexity. The latter, Lady May, a 2011 cabernet sauvignon blanc has amassed several prestigious awards, but stands way behind those showered on the owner of Glenelly Estate in Ida’s Valley, Stellenbosch, a farm that is a must on any serious wine-lovers itinerary.
But as this is August, dubbed women’s month, these words are penned more to honour Mme May-Eliane de Lencquesaing, who turned 92 in May, an event shared with another in London when the IWC presented her with their Lifetime Achievement Award .
Back in 1994 Lady May became President of the International Wine & Spirit competition, subsequently becoming Vice President for Life. In that year she was also awarded title of Decanter Woman of the Year, and, as the years rolled on, the list of honours and awards grew longer, and today the accolades from France, USA, and South Africa make for inspiring reading.
Born into one of Bordeaux’s oldest wine families, this did not necessarily guarantee an easy road to success. Madame May worked tirelessly in pursuit of excellence at Chateau Pichon Lalande over 30 years to achieve her goal. Two years short of her 80th birthday she bought Glenelly estate outside Stellenbosch and planted vines, built a cellar – and installed a Glass Museum to mirror that of the one in her French chateau. She wanted to continue the French heritage of winemaking at the Cape, and today, this striking estate offers fine wines, a charming bistro, a tasting centre and her unique glass collection. It is apposite that this glamorous grandmother has two grandsons – 8th generation vintners and wine producers – to support her and take both her French and South African enterprises forward. Heritage is honoured and tradition is upheld on two continents, in immaculate style.