How Do You Grow a Vineyard Like Maria?
Experience 4.0 Stellenbosch Wine 4.0

How Do You Grow a Vineyard Like Maria?

NEETHLINGSHOF WINE ESTATE
Friday 5 May 2017
https://neethlingshof.co.za/

Experience: 4/5
Wines: 4/5

The drive from Clos Malverne to Neethlingshof was barely 10 kilometres. The contrast was far greater than the distance and in so many ways too. The grand, white Neethlingshof entrance gates stood imperious against the grey sky. Ageing stone pine trees lined the driveway for a kilometre, like gapped teeth, and with many younger trees planted eventually to fill the gaps. Signs directed me to a large car park bordered by an ornamental rose garden with low box topiary hedging. All around were white Cape Dutch buildings with their elegant gables, 200 years old and more, with their deep green doors and windows. Clos Malverne, with its unassuming entrance, non-existent drive, and modern Restaurant and Tasting Room felt far away.

I am constantly reminded by the diversity, the originality, and the individuality of the South African wines estates. I am privileged to be able to see these beautiful vineyards in their environment, so much better than choosing their wines off the shelf in a bottle store.

The newly-renovated Tasting Room at Neethlingshof was in the far corner of the courtyard. It was grand and impressive, yet open and inviting, as befitted an estate with a long pedigree and history. Grapes have been grown here for over 300 years. The first farm was known as De Wolvendans, or ‘The Dance of Wolves’, curiously so since the wolf originates from Eurasia and North America. The greatest legacy comes from a woman called Maria Marias who took over the farm in 1813 when her husband, Charles, died. It was Maria who decorated and lived in the glorious homestead that houses the Lord Neethling Restaurant today.

Maria doubled the area under vine, adding 200 hectares to the 197 hectares that she already owned, to make for more than 80,000 vines. She must have been an impressive lady and is presently honoured as one of the Cape’s first female winemakers in the young colony. Her name is given to the Noble Late Harvest wine – simply called ‘Maria’ – which I did not sample today. It was not until 1828, when Maria’s daughter married Johannes Neethling, who became the joint owner, that the farm name was changed to Neethlingshof.

Fast forward to 2017 and the 276 hectare estate today has some 97 hectares under vine. All the major varietals are grown. Red grapes predominate but only slightly so. The estate lies on rolling slopes between the Bottelary Hills and Papegaaisberg. Cooling sea breezes allow slow ripening which, together with careful planting of the different cultivars, enhances their natural flavours and aromas. Neethlingshof is highly committed to sustainability and diversity too, with some 42% of the estate returned to or set aside for indigenous vegetation.

Wines, as I said, are so much more than the content of their bottles. It is time now to turn to the tasting. Elodi was my host for a value-for-money R40 for 5 wines tasting offer. Breadsticks, water and a spittoon were provided. I was hungry and so ordered a brie and beef baguette as I sampled the first whites.

These typically were a Chardonnay and a Sauvignon Blanc. Somehow, in the space of a few kilometres, my tasting radar had failed. The dry, light-bodied Chardonnay with aromatic notes of green and yellow citrus, together with gooseberry, had me think it a Sauvignon Blanc. Worse, I thought the Sauvignon Blanc (normally the easiest white wine correctly to identify) a Riesling. This was on account of an emphasis on warm, stone fruit aromas that followed through onto the palate. It had a clean mouth feel too but was less acidic than I would have expected for a Sauvignon Blanc.

It just goes to show, yet again, that the more one knows about wine the less one knows. I could claim distraction by the Crusaders v Stormers match showing on the television behind the bar but that would be an excuse. Fortunately, the huge tasty baguette and chips arrived and I was able to focus on something else.

The first red fooled too as it was not a wine I was expecting. It was a Malbec (not a Sauvignon Blanc) with good medium ruby to purple colour and dark berry fruitiness on the nose. The tasting note described it as ‘light-bodied’, quite how I am unsure, but also that it was a Veritas 2016 Award Winner. I bought a bottle as it is a varietal not commonly seem.

I muddled up the Cabernet Sauvignon and the Pinotage, mostly as I detected plummy fruits and light peppercorn spiciness in the first glass. I rated the Pinotage higher due to greater complexity on the nose and a better balance between tannin, flavour and alcohol on the palate. The Owl Post Pinotage was the final red I tasted, so called to draw attention to the estate’s integrated pesticide management approach that reduces pesticide use. I liked the rich fruitiness, with hints of coffee and chocolate, and velvety tannins. Before leaving, I sampled a chilled, acidic Chenin Blanc. It was young (2017) with delicate warm tropical notes. I toured too the well-lit cellar with its large oak vats and bountiful racks of smaller barrels.

Neethlingshof, as many vineyards with a long history, has sought to combine the ancient with the modern. The quality and consistency of the wines was apparent as my ‘Likeability’ scores varied remarkably little for the individual wines. The legacy of Maria lives on today. I shall sample the Noble Late Harvest next time I visit and shall raise my glass with a toast to ‘Maria’!

Wines tasted (bought *):

White:

2016 Unwooded Chardonnay – R70*
2017 Sauvignon Blanc – R70
2017 Chenin Blanc- R65

Red:

2016 Malbec – R90* FAVOURITE WINE
2014 Cabernet Sauvignon – R90
2016 Pinotage – R90
2015 The Owl Post Pinotage – R220

You Might Also Like

Malverne Dis-Clos-ed

Great Value in the Swartland

Taint, Mould, Sweet-Sour, Elastoplast, Stale Honey, Bee Wax and Potato Skin With the Wine Prof

Blush-endal!

Mixed Spice at the Pinotage Festival

No Black Marks at Raka

Four Partners (not Cousins) at the Vineyard Hotel

Magical Wines Star at Dragonridge

Warwick Wines Win their Colours

Iconic Steenberg

Straw Berry Yields for e-Ver-gelegen

Wacky – not Tacky – in Robertson

The Gods Come Home to the Vineyard

Grand Wines at the Big Top!

Family Fun in Pairs at Four Cousins

Wines Out of the Barrel at Kanonkop

Simonsig Excellence Today with a Traditional Legacy

All is Not Lost in a Safe Port

Beau-tiful Beau-tique Beau-Constantia

Wines to Love on Love Street

Linga-ring in a Winery in Malawi

K-eynote W-ines at the V-ineyard

More than Just a Destination

iWine rather than IMAX at the Cape Gate Mall

Nala Wines are Well Engineered in the Vineyard

Class in Glass at Glenelly

A Family Occasion – the Story behind the Bottle

Beyond Expectation

The Terroir is Honoured in the Bottle at Springfield

Quality with Style in the Vineyard

British Reserve and Excellence at Sumaridge

Serenity without Worry or Preoccupation in the Chapel

Red Chair in the Morning

Multi-Faceted Wines on Display at the Vineyard

Classic(al) to Barrique – De Morgenzon Hits all the Right Notes

Family Fun at the Greek Harvest Festival

Wagons to the Cellar at Waboomsrivier

Pastures Anew at Rustenberg

It’s all Art and Wine at Almenkerk

Verticle Tasting on the Ridge in Elgin

Golden Wines at the End of the Rainbow

Saxenburg Puts Heart, Mind and Soul into Its Wines

Water into Wine at Uitkyk

Englishman Meets Mrs English at Classic Lanzerac

Fun(ny) Times at Lourensford

Mulderbosch didn’t quite Meet the Yardstick

Mutual Attraction

Bon Courage and Bon Voyage

The Vineyard Hotel a Classic Vehicle to Showcase L’Ormarins Wines

Heaven Meets Earth at Bouchard Finlayson

The Garagiste in the Garage at Sonklip!

Altitudes with Wine!

Bracing Brakes on the Red Wines at Remhoogte

On Yonder Hill There Stands a Vineyard!

Big Preparations in the Little Vineyard

Elegant Wines Kiss the Lips in the Vineyard

Seven Reasons To Visit Seven Oaks Wines

Excelsior Blends Quality with Price

Wine on the Slopes at Chamonix

Lust-ful Reds in the Vineyard

Maiden Visit to Lord’s Bowled Me Over

Dreaming of a Wine Christmas

Perfection is Attainable at Boschkloof Wines

Summer Whites …… and Rosés

Swiss Family Sauvignons at Eikendal

Quality Abounds on the Mound at La Motte

Tasting Vines at the Vineyard

Grape Expectations are Met at Zevenwacht

It’s High Time Again

Delaire Graff Wines Sparkle

From Palette to Palate to Muratie

Value for Money from Angel Gabriel in the Vineyard

Waxing Lyrical about Canto

The Big Easy Tee’s Off in the Vineyard

Trading Wines in the City Bowl

Wines That Don’t Cost The Earth

Pedigree Stud Grub at Cavalli

Neil’s Vines on the Tr-Ellis in Stellenbosch

Purring at the Wines in Tyger Valley

Rustic Charm at the Altydgedacht Wine Farm

A Kleine Experience at Zalze

Sax ‘n’ Berg at the Vineyard

In the Highlands in the Lowlands of Elgin

Clouds Reign in Stellenbosch

Sweet and Safe Times Pair Well with the Whales

Grape Fun – Stomping Well Worth the Journey!

Wine Passions Mounted at Cavalli

Groot Phesantekraal an Unexpected Surprise!

Cabernet Franc – Well Worth a Gamble!

In the Vineyard with Beyerskloof

More Still at Tanagra

In the Garage in the Heart of McGregor

The Phoenix Rises from the Terroir at Thelema

Wine Notes Composed at D’Aria

Well Hosted and Enjoyable – Even Though I did not Experience at its Best

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *