SOME of the best wine estates and wine makers in the country, and, indeed, the world, will be in Durban for the The Mercury Wine Week which begins at Sibaya Casino on Wednesday.
While it isn’t possible to profile all the amazing estates in the showcase, we decided to provide a taste of the rich history and hard-working individuals behind some of the brands:
Heritage and art often go hand in hand, which is why it’s no surprise that Spier, one of South Africa’s oldest wine farms, has dedicated itself to the arts. Established in 1692, it has a fascinating legacy, yielding conscious energy in the modern day.
Focused on art and good farming, Spier is about farm-to-table food and accoladed wines. Guests may sample these acclaimed wines paired with delicious food at the airy, art-filled Tasting Room on the banks of the Spier Dam or head outside on to the sunny stoep which offers stunning views of the Helderberg mountains.
When in 2002 Jean-Claude (JC) and Carolyn Martin took up the challenge of establishing a winery in a remote corner of the Walker Bay wine region, they did so with the courage of their convictions.
The 40 hectares of undulating land on the lofty Hemel-en-Aarde Ridge had never been planted with vines before, but recognising the potential, they set out with tenacity and determination to transform it into a model wine farm.
Their modern cellar was completed in time for the 2007 vintage and features state-of-the-art equipment. All their red wines are matured under optimum conditions in 225-litre French oak barriques.
The Cape’s first farm – established in 1682 – has come a long way from its humble beginnings. Roughly 30 minutes from the bustling heart of Cape Town, Steenberg is a destination steeped in heritage.
Like the other naturally beautiful estates, it boasts a hotel, restaurants and spa.
However, the outstanding winery, which produces some of the finest Sauvignon Blanc and Méthode Cap Classique in South Africa, also has an 18-hole championship golf course, making Steenberg a complete leisure destination in idyllic Constantia.
Blessed with ideal climatic conditions, Bon Courage enjoys long sunlight hours in summer, which ensure optimum ripeness and a perfect balance between sugar and acid. Low rainfall during the growing period minimises the need for pesticides, and computerised drip irrigation is used to achieve scientific control of water application.
Nights are chilly and often misty, further enhancing the delicate and elusive flavours and aromas of the grapes. To sustain the superior quality of the fruit, yields are kept low, water supply is controlled and canopy management is strictly applied.
When temperatures are low, the grapes produce the most subtle flavours and, therefore, night harvesting was introduced in 1986. The combination of perfect fruit, state-of-the-art cellar technology and the traditional skills of winemaking, learned over generations, have resulted in a wine offering of superior quality.
Entrepreneur and wine producer Mbali Masike is not yet a cellar master, but is well on her way to becoming one.
After her mom introduced her to wine, Masike tracked down the maker of that particular bottle, John Robert Frater, a fifth-generation winemaker whose family has been producing wonderful wines from the De Zoete Inval Estate in Paarl, in the Western Cape. She told Rob about her experience with his wine and asked him to mentor her. Much has happened since and Mbali plans to expand the current range of six wines that are now being produced and sold.
Anura Vineyards is owned and run by Tymen, Jenny and Lance Bouma.
Positioned on the foothills on the Simonsberg Mountains, Anura boasts a wide variety of soils, slopes and microclimates. This allows them to grow a wide selection of cultivars – some of them unusual in South Africa – and to also match each cultivar with its ideal soil and microclimate.
Mourvédre, Petit Verdot, Grenache, Pinot Noir, Sangiovese and Malbec, are among their unique and distinctive offerings
Their grapes are harvested by hand for optimum ripeness.
Careful attention is paid to each lot of grapes, based not only on the cultivar, but also on the particular block concerned. Block 10 for example, consistently produces their award-winning Merlot Reserve, which has won numerous double gold awards and trophies.