Excelsior Blends Quality with Price
Experience 4.5 Festivals & Events Robertson Wine 4.0

Excelsior Blends Quality with Price

EXCELSIOR WINE ESTATE
1 June 2017
https://www.excelsior.co.za/
http://www.wackywineweekend.com/

Experience: 4.5/5
Wines: 4/5

Excelsior Wine Estate gave my first sight of the Breede River Valley vines as I turned off the R60 East of Robertson. The comprehensive listing of GPS co-ordinates in the Wacky Wine Weekend vineyards made the short journey from Robertson Winery easy. Fading leaves clutched to vine arms in the bright autumn sunshine on either side of the entrance driveway. I parked beside the large, white cellar/storage building and then walked to the Tasting Room. This was in a wooden lodge perched on stilts overlooking a dam. The setting was inviting and the best of my day so far.

Arrival and History

I arrived before the official 2 pm Wacky opening time. My reason for visiting Excelsior inter alia was to blend and label my own wine. Booking was not required but I wanted to be early, as I expected this to be a popular activity.

The intimate Tasting Room was comfortably full with wine aficionadas. I felt welcome. I sensed too that I was in for a treat. Excelsior did not disappoint. The horse theme I had noticed on the outbuildings was reflected in the wine names, logos and labels on the Wacky tasting sheet: Purebred and Paddock, for example.

They point to the history of Excelsior. As with many other Robertson vineyards, economic development has not always been easy. The farm was once home to one of the most successful ostrich breeders in the district. Ostrich plumes, the height of haute couture in the early 20th century, could sell for as much as £5 for a single feather. This was the cost of a passage from Cape Town to London. The associated affluence of the ostrich breeders led to an architectural style known as ‘feather palaces’. Kowie De Wet (the family has 5 generations of winemakers) built the Excelsior Manor house in this extravagant style: a Victorian Cape Revival house with embellished Dutch Gables.

Just as advent of the railways led to collapse of the wagon-building industry in the Breede River Valley, so too did the motor car end the fashion for ostrich feather hats, bonnets and boas. Kowie and his son, Oscar, turned to wine-making. They saved Excelsior from insolvency. Today, 220 of the 330 hectares are under vine. Three-quarters of the harvest is from red cultivars and this is reflected in the Tasting Menu.

Tasting

I chose the Viognier to start as I had not tasted the wine recently and not from the Robertson area. It was a decent wine with bright, characteristic honeysuckle, floral and white peach flavours. The Shiraz Rosé, at just R40, was a bargain. The pale-medium salmon colour, strawberry and raspberry notes, and dry to off-dry not-too-crisp palate made for pleasant drinking. It was all a Rosé should be for a summer – or even a sunny autumn – day.

My tasting turned to the red wines, starting with the Purebred Shiraz/Merlot combo. I tried to get my head around how a blend could be ‘purebred’ but let’s not split horse hairs. The wine was the cheapest I tasted (just R35) and one of my favourites, vying with the Muskadel for my ‘most-liked’ wine. It just goes to show the benefit of tasting in the vineyard. The 2 cultivars, in equal amount, balanced well in colour, their combined spicy fruit aromas and tannin. I liked how it was served slightly chilled too.

The single variety, medium-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz, equally priced at R55, offered great value for money too. I rated them much the same. Both were decent wines, good in colour and full of fresh flavour. The tannins in the Cabernet Sauvignon were drying without being too grippy, that belied their age. The Shiraz offered sweeter notes of violet (I rarely pick up this aroma that often is mentioned in Tasting Notes) mingled with red plum and white peppercorn on the nose.

I could not resist sampling the sweet, dessert Rooi Muskadel. I couldn’t find out much about it other than it contains 16% alcohol. The bottle is designated Wine of Origin Klein Karoo with reference to Pietersfontein, Montagu on the label. The delicate pale salmon colour surprised, though perhaps it shouldn’t have from the name. The wine was as pleasant and drinkable as the Rosé, warm in the mouth with grapey, raisin and apricot flavours.

Blending – more Fun

The highlight of the tasting – and the reason for coming to Excelsior – was the chance to blend my own wine. Three small barrels, each containing Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Shiraz, sat on a long shelf on one side of the Tasting Room. I chose first to make my personalised bottle label as the computer was busy, slightly cramped in one corner beside the bar. Label design proved to be fiddly because of how the computer was set up but well worth the patience to do so.

I hadn’t blended before but have booked a place on the Garagiste Course at Stellenbosch University in mid-September. My approach was both plan and trial and error. My first thought was which cultivar I wished to be the lead. I decided from my tastings so far on a Shiraz-led blend. Which should be the next largest component? Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot? I reckoned that the drying tannins in the Cabernet Sauvignon would add structure to the Shiraz, so made this the second biggest amount. The Merlot would add some cedar notes to fill and balance.

Beneath each barrel was a small measuring cylinder. The method, I was advised, was to use this to experiment and make the best tasting wine. Trial and error then took the place of theory. This was fun. I eventually decided on 67% Shiraz, 22% Cabernet Sauvignon and 11% Merlot. I have no idea of the technical correctness of the blend but it tasted good! My final task was to convert the proportions to the right amount to fill a 750ml standard wine bottle. Calculations done, I rested the bottle in the cup beneath each barrel tap and filled it to the desired level using the graduated markings beside. Minor final adjustment was needed to fill the bottle to the right level.

My final task was to bottle and label. The corking machine attracted quite an audience. Corking was easier than it looked but everyone posed and took photos to make it look really tough! Self-adhesive label applied – and a second bottle made for a friend – and my wine was complete.

The Finish

Excelsior Wine Estate was a great place to visit and a vineyard I would recommend. The wines offered great value for money, higher in quality than those at Rooiberg and Robertson wineries and at very little extra price. I bought more bottles here than I did from any other Wacky Wine Weekend wine farm. The blending was something very special too and more than just a gimmick. My sole remaining consideration is how long to age Peter’s Vintage before drinking …

Wines tasted (* bought):

White:

2017 Excelsior Viognier – R50*

Rosé:

2016 Excelsior Caitlyn Rosé (100% Shiraz) – R40*

Red:

2015 Purebred Shiraz/Merlot (50% Shiraz, 50% Merlot) – R35*
2015 Excelsior Cabernet Sauvignon – R55
2015 Excelsior Paddock Shiraz – R55*

Dessert:

2012 Kapelsloot Rooi Muskadel (375ml) – R50* FAVOURITE WINE

You Might Also Like

Excellent Unstated Wines and Service – Naturally!

Delaire Graff Wines Sparkle

The Terroir is Honoured in the Bottle at Springfield

Straw Berry Yields for e-Ver-gelegen

Magnifico – Grazie Mille Idiom!

Pastures Anew at Rustenberg

Tasting Vines at the Vineyard

Idiom Wines Make a Statement

Elegant Wines Kiss the Lips in the Vineyard

In the Vineyard with Beyerskloof

Rickety Tram Passengers at Rickety Bridge

It’s High Time Again

Englishman Meets Mrs English at Classic Lanzerac

How Do You Grow a Vineyard Like Maria?

Latching onto Superb Wines at De Grendel

A Myth, a Princess, History and Destruction, 2 Names and 4 Styles – Shiraz with Pizzazz

Iona Wines Remain Excellent In and At the Vineyard

Late at Lateganskop

Peter Puts into Hermanus

Elgin Valley is the Cool Wine Tour

Virgin Whites Led Me into the Last Temptation

Red, Red (Spanish) Wine

Rijk Tulbagh Gives Name to Cellar and Town

South over the Hills in Elgin

In the Garage in the Heart of McGregor

Cabsolutely Frankulous at the Carnival

PicknPay Pairs it again at the Stellenbosch Wine Festival

The Phoenix Rises from the Terroir at Thelema

Grape Expectations are Met at Zevenwacht

The Ladies in Red

Posh Spice in Franschhoek!

The Early Bird Catches the Wine

Dreaming of a Wine Christmas

At the Bend in the Road in Bot River

Nala Wines are Well Engineered in the Vineyard

It’s all Art and Wine at Almenkerk

Satisfaction in Getting My Ducks (and Wines) in a Row

Seven Reasons To Visit Seven Oaks Wines

Hermanus-sleepers-fontein!

Wines to Love on Love Street

Pinotage Hits a Purple Patch in Paarl

Kosie Wynes at Groenland

Franschhoek’s Hidden Gem Is Reluctant to Reveal

Grape Fun – Stomping Well Worth the Journey!

Bon Courage and Bon Voyage

Barrels of Fun at My First Stellenbosch Street Soirée

Verticle Tasting on the Ridge in Elgin

Hout Bay Vineyards – Simply the Best!

Quality Abounds on the Mound at La Motte

Opening the Book at Elgin Vintners

Sweet and Safe Times Pair Well with the Whales

A Quando-ary: When to Drink …?

‘Out of the Office’ at Groot Constantia

All is Not Lost in a Safe Port

Heaven Meets Earth at Bouchard Finlayson

Malverne Dis-Clos-ed

Mulderbosch didn’t quite Meet the Yardstick

Mutual Attraction

The Gods Come Home to the Vineyard

Vista to Verdot at Glen Carlou

Great Value in the Swartland

Wine Notes Composed at D’Aria

Wine on the Slopes at Chamonix

Marching into France

Bellville to Bellevue to Belle Wines

Better than a Fair View Where the Goats do Roam!

On Yonder Hill There Stands a Vineyard!

Shiraz Purrs at Manley Wine Lodge

More Still at Tanagra

Grand Wines at the Big Top!

Simonsig Excellence Today with a Traditional Legacy

I-own-a Wine Farm!

Lemberg Punches Above its Weight

A Family Occasion – the Story behind the Bottle

Idiom Puts on a Festival Master Class

Multi-Faceted Wines on Display at the Vineyard

Robertson – Town by Name, Wine by Name

Well and Truly Oaked!

Mixed Spice at the Pinotage Festival

Putting Capelands on the Cape Winelands Map!

Neil’s Vines on the Tr-Ellis in Stellenbosch

Graham Beck MCCs Fizzled Out

Back to the Future in the Berg of Paarl

Iconic Steenberg

Serenity without Worry or Preoccupation in the Chapel

Wines Out of the Barrel at Kanonkop

Wines That Don’t Cost The Earth

Beau-tiful Beau-tique Beau-Constantia

1 Night, 7 Oaks, 3 Wine Tastings for Visit 2!

British Reserve and Excellence at Sumaridge

The Garagiste in the Garage at Sonklip!

Rustic Charm at the Altydgedacht Wine Farm

Value for Money from Angel Gabriel in the Vineyard

Class in Glass at Glenelly

Onderkloof Beats All the Odds Below The Valley

Four Partners (not Cousins) at the Vineyard Hotel

A Cracker and a Stormer at Paul Wallace

iWine rather than IMAX at the Cape Gate Mall

Trading Wines in the City Bowl

Lust-ful Reds in the Vineyard

High Living on the Stoep Sipping Aged, Luscious Red Wines

Blush-endal!

Cabernet Franc – Well Worth a Gamble!

King Chenin Kens (Knows) the Wood from the Trees

Masses of Fun and a little Chaos at the Ambeloui Harvest Festival

Diemersdal has Six Appeal

Oh-MG at Anthonij Rupert

Groot Phesantekraal an Unexpected Surprise!

Wacky – not Tacky – in Robertson

Baby Thrown Out with the Bath Water?

Blaauwklippen was Good for a Friday

Boutique de Brendel

Red Chair in the Morning

Beyond Expectation

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

The Big Easy Tee’s Off in the Vineyard

A Sparkling Tasting at Charles Fox

The Darling from Darling Steps into the Vineyard

Pick n Taste Time at Stellenbosch

Fish (and other foods) with Wanda!

Family Fun in Pairs at Four Cousins

Sa-Bot-Riveur!

Sax ‘n’ Berg at the Vineyard

Dis-gorgeous at Weltevrede

Real Wines in the Place of God

K-eynote W-ines at the V-ineyard

Always a Favourite – Guaranteed to Delight

Magical Wines Star at Dragonridge

Waxing Lyrical about Canto

Wines Made to Stand the Taste of Time

Maiden Visit to Lord’s Bowled Me Over

Golden Wines at the End of the Rainbow

Linga-ring in a Winery in Malawi

Saxenburg Puts Heart, Mind and Soul into Its Wines

In the Highlands in the Lowlands of Elgin

Red and White Wines with Frog’s ‘Legs’

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

Fun(ny) Times at Lourensford

More-ish Wines at Môreson

Purring at the Wines in Tyger Valley

No Black Marks at Raka

Summer Whites …… and Rosés

Cork and Talk with Dave

A Cape Wine Master-class

Peace but No Rest at Rust en Vrede

Family Fun at the Greek Harvest Festival

Sugar and Spice is Twice as Nice

More than Just a Destination

Where Eagles Care

4 Comments

  1. Robertson – Town by Name, Wine by Name – Cape Wine Lovers Society

    […] to pick out some great value for money wines. My next Wacky Wine Weekend stop was to be Excelsior Wine Estate. The Robertsons have done […]

  2. Wacky – not Tacky – in Robertson – Cape Wine Lovers Society

    […] out for refined wines for the connoisseur. Tanagra (I didn’t taste the extensive eau de vie), Excelsior, Lords, and Quando produced some decent and interesting wines too. The choice and wide range of […]

  3. Bon Courage and Bon Voyage – Cape Wine Lovers Society

    […] individual character of wine farms fascinates me. If Excelsior Wine Estate was for the enthusiast and aficionado, then Bon Courage Estate – only a few kilometres away […]

  4. 2017 Annual Cape Wine Lovers’ Society Awards – Cape Wine Lovers' Society

    […] Tasting Experience: Hermanuspietersfontein, Hermanus Best Tasting Room Activity: Blending Wine at Excelsior Wine Estate, Robertson Best Festival: Wacky Wines Festival, Robertson Best Small Producer: Hout Bay […]

Leave a Reply

Your e-mail address will not be published. Required fields are marked *