The 300th anniversary of Morgenster’s founding was celebrated with a formal tasting of the new vintages of the estate’s renowned red blends, followed by antipasti after which the main course and dessert were served.
At the dawn of the 18th century Boland burghers claimed an early victory against corruption: Willem Adriaan van der Stel, who developed his huge farm Vergelegen into a thriving operation using official resources, was recalled to Holland in disgrace. His estate was divided into four farms, one of which - De Morgenster - was acquired and developed by Huguenot immigrant Jacques Malan in 1711. His son Daniel prospered there too, enlarging the homestead and building a wine cellar.
Morgenster passed from the Malan to the Morkel family who remained custodians until the phylloxera epidemic of 1885 wreaked financial havoc. Subsequent owners undertook a restoration project which continued when Giulio Bertrand, a successful Italian entrepreneur with a yen for Africa, bought the estate in 1992.
Today the manor house and outbuildings form the historic heart of the large werf, while the contemporary hillside cellar overlooks vineyards and olive groves. The estate olive oil garners local and international awards annually. Guests poured fresh olive oil over ciabatta, toasted, rubbed with garlic and dipped into coarse salt. Morgenster’s dry rose, made from sangiovese, joined this appetiser.
In the manor house courtyard, wines from the estate’s Italian Collection waited to go with the spread of antipasti inside: It reflected the colours of the Italian flag with fresh basil sprigs, perfect baby Roma tomatoes and buffalo mozzarella balls, each ingredient piled into huge stemmed glass containers. Cured green and black olives were next to star, presented in the olive tree nursery.
The impressive cellar and tasting area was the final destination, where guests sipped the new flagship vintages accompanied by pungent tapenade spread on flatbread.
The 2008 releases were then presented. The second label Lourens River Valley, dominated by cab franc complemented with merlot, cab and a splash of petit verdot, is youthful, fresh and well-balanced. The flagship Morgenster (comprising similar quantities of merlot and cab franc, plus some cab and petit verdot) is my first choice. - Weekend Argus