Stellenzicht to Durbanville Hills
Ever wanted to know more about the wines and wine producers of South Africa? Paul Hopkins and Tony Dodds, from the MMI wine team, are on a whistle-stop tour this 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 two pm – Monday 13th June
The next vineyard on our itinerary was one that I have to admit to not knowing too much about. Stellenzicht is the home of Hill & Dale and we were lucky enough to have the winemaker showing us around and guiding us through the tasting. Guy Webber is a colourful larger than life character with a passion for Stellenbosch and Pinotage. It is always a privilege to be able to meet people with the same kind of passion for wine that Tony and I have.
The pick of the tasting in the Hill & Dale range was the Shiraz Cabernet (15+) full of varietal bramble leaf, cassis, plums and cloves with a touch of pepper and fine tannins, and the Pinotage (15) firm chunky tannins that had an African edge to them with dark berry fruit and spicy notes. In the Golden Triangle range both the Stellenzicht Pinotage 2009 (16) and the 2002 (16) had all the characters that we have been craving for in South African Pinotage but, in the last six months, all too often been lacking. You just can’t beat a passionate winemaker making the wines that he loves. The final wine of the tasting was the Rhapsody, a blended wine that manages to balance the sweetness of Shiraz with the firm tannin structure of Pinotage (16.5).
The journey from Stellenzicht to Durbanville Hills was stunning and we were treated to a view of Table mountain as it poked through the low lying clouds. The wines were all well-made with great fruit. The Biesjes Craal Sauvignon Blanc was a ‘Europeans’ delight with its mineral edge and fumé style (16.5) but wines that we already stock in Dubai were looking good too. Rhinofields Pinotage (15.5) – soft berry fruits with hints of chocolate and spice (15.5), Rhinofields Shiraz – creamy texture with berry and elegant fine tannins and a lingering length (15.5). The final wine of the day was the Caapmans Cabernet Merlot 2007 which was jammed full of brambles, briary, leafy cassis fruit with subtle hints of mushrooms and earthy notes (16.5).
The tasting was completed by a chocolate and wine matching with chocolate from a local producer designed to specifically match the wines of Durbanville Hills. Tony who is hosting a chocolate and wine event when we come back was all ears trying to understand this difficult match and the way in which the fat content affects the tannins of the wine. Overall it worked with and both Tony and I walked away with a bar of chocolate in our bags. Many thanks to Martin Moore, the Cellar and his teams for a great tasting.
As with any trip away we try to maximise our time as much as possible, so even in the evenings we work (!!) and tonight was no exception. We were joined by Deidre Samson (Global Marketing Manager) and Albert Gerber (Managing Director) of Dubanville Hills at Balducci’s Restaurant on the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town for an informal meeting. The company was great and very entertaining, the service was delightful and charming. Paul Hopkins (photography – Tony).
To read more about the trip: