Geoff Heath-Taylor samples the delights of Nederburg Wines.
In 1791 Philippus Wolvaart, a farmer of Dutch descent, purchased a farm in Stellenbosch and named his new homestead ‘Nederburg’. Two centuries later, and the homestead that Wolvaart built remains at the heart of this great estate, and the wines that are being produced are perhaps the most recognisable in South Africa.
Cycling at speed along the long, sun-baked road, wind-swept hills towering on the right and cliffsfalling away sharply into the ocean on the left, it could easily be the Western Cape. The north Devon coast may be eight and a half thousand miles from Stellenbosch, but a more fitting setting would be hard to come by as Nederburg Wines hosted a wine and cycling trip at Kentisbury Grange to showcase their wines and demonstrate their food-matching capability. The wines were carefully selected to match the food served at chef Michael Caines’ Coach House restaurant.
Capitalising on the current fashion for sparkling wines, first up was Nederburg’s Pongracz Desiderius, Cap Classique (2008). Made using the traditional Cap Classique method, this Pinot Noir and Chardonnay blend is rich and developed. Presented in a fun and elegant bottle, Pongracz is perfectly suitable to be served as an aperitif as an alternative to champagne.
Nederburg’s Heritage Heroes range was created to celebrate the story of the farm and the people who made it into what it is today. The Beautiful Lady (2015) was named for the wife of Johann Graue who purchased the estate in 1937, and this aromatic, full-bodied white wine is supposed to reflect the character of this gracious chatelaine of Nederburg. As is customary of a wine made from the Gewürztraminer grape this is a relatively sweet wine, yet this is tempered by an acidity that means this can be served as an aperitif or paired with seafood or oriental dishes.
The Motorcycle Marvel (2013) was named for the winemaker Günter Brözel, who was cellar master at Nederburg from 1956 to 1989 and who would get around on a 250cc BSA motorcycle. Credited with helping turn Nederburg into the most awarded winery in South Africa, this Rhône-style blend includes Carignan (35%), Grenache (30%), Shiraz (25%) and Mourvédre (10%). This intense and spicy red is full-bodied and great served with meaty dishes such as roast chicken or barbecued steaks.
Nederburg Wine’s Ingenuity Collection is the winery’s platform by which it explores new and innovative blends that appeal to ambitious wine lovers who enjoy originality. This ensemble of blended wine showcases the skill and inventiveness of the Nederburg winemakers, and the Ingenuity White Blend (2013) is the perfect example of this. This eight-way blend features more grapes than any other wine in South Africa, with Sauvignon Blanc making up the lions share at 33%, followed by Chardonnay at 19%, Semillon at 18%, Chenin Blanc at 10%, Rousanne, Vigonier and Verdelho at 6% and Gewürztraminer at 2%. Although this wine can be served instead of a Sauvignon Blanc with classic chicken dishes, it can equally be paired with richer meats such as rabbit or lamb due to its complex layers of flavouring.
The scope and variety of Nederburg’s wine range is quite exceptional, from off-the-shelf blends like Ingenuity to the limited edition cuvees sold exclusively at the farm’s annual auction. Nederburg’s red wine maker, Samuel Viljoen, and cellar master Razvan Macici have worked abroad and they bring to Nederburg the priceless experience that comes from studying under foreign winemakers. Consequently Nederburg Wines have a global appeal that means they can be enjoyed as much by Devonians as Capetonians.
Nederburg wines are distributed in the UK on trade by Matthew Clark (www.matthewclark.co.uk; 0344 822 3910). Nederburg’s 56 Hundred range can be purchased for RRP £5.75 from Tesco and Morrisons.