Going underground in Vergelegen
Ever wanted to know more about the wines and wine producers of South Africa? Paul Hopkins and Tony Dodds, from the MMI wine team, were on a whistle-stop tour last week. Read their reports here on the Grapevine site where they’ll be taking you inside the wineries and sharing their impressions (and a few other things besides!)
Day three pm – Tuesday 14th June
It’s hard not to be impressed by Vergelegen. The winery is located at the centre of 60ha of finely manicured gardens in 17 different themes and looks more like some secret hideaway for the latest villain in a James Bond film than somewhere for making wine. It appears quite small from the outside and it is only when you enter through the main entrance do you realize that the winery is, in fact, inside the hill and only the tip of it can be seen. It is three floors deep and has been designed and maintained to levels that far exceed any normal expectations. The winery is not only perfectly aligned to due north (the tower is aligned to magnetic north because the designers couldn’t decide which north to use) but it’s also completely symmetrical with the barrels and tanks mirrored exactly on each side. It is this kind of attention to detail that arguably makes this one of the finest estates in South Africa.
The wines were as every bit as good as they should have been. The Sauvignon Blanc crisp and dry with a hint of minerality (15.5), the Chardonnay (16.5) was complex with great oak and freshness; is there a better value Chardonnay out there? We tasted the Shiraz (16), which had elegant spicy notes with violets and soft tannins, and then onto the big three. Vergelegen Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 (17) was one of the stars of the week and could easily have been mistaken for high quality Bordeaux, the Estate Red 2004 (16.5), dry red fruits with aged complexity, but still very juicy, was so elegant and then finally the Vergelegen V 2009 (17.5) which took the tasting to another level altogether. Ripe and fruity yet complex and earthy with savoury tannins and a finish that just went on and on. The highlight of the day.
Andre van Rensburg, the winemaker, has managed to capture the very essence of this unique site and we felt privileged to be able to taste such an exceptional range of wines in such an exceptional location. Paul Hopkins (images by Tony Dodds)
To read more about the trip:
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