Saxenburg Puts Heart, Mind and Soul into Its Wines
Experience 4.0 Stellenbosch Wine 4.0

Saxenburg Puts Heart, Mind and Soul into Its Wines

Thursday 11 January 2018

Experience: 4/5
Wines: 4/5

The vineyards are closely packed along the Polkadraai Road to the West of Stellenbosch. Saxenburg is one of the most Western of them and should have been my fourth and final wine tasting of the day but, unfortunately, Nico van der Merwe was closed for the afternoon. I had tasted a sample of 4 Saxenburg wines at the Vineyard Hotel, Newlands, Cape Town in August last year and wanted ever since to taste them in the winery in which they were made. Today was to be my day.



It was fitting that I returned on the day I had seen tarentaal in the fields en route to Boschkloof Wines where I tasted first before visiting Mulderbosch after. It was surprising then for a farm that prides itself on tradition that the Guinea Fowl Restaurant is no more. However good, Cattle Baron Grill Room doesn’t have quite the same cachet. Nonetheless, the Saxenburg branding logo of 3 Guinea fowls remains: one for a heart that beats with passion to make the finest wine each year; the second for the mind, to keep the heart in check and to make the best decisions; and the third, for the soul that keeps knowledge and passion together.



The bold gold-lettered entrance led to a drive passing burgeoning vines with traditional pest-indicator red and pink roses at the end of each row. I parked and then walked along a rising path beside a whitewashed wall with herbaceous borders to reach the unassuming Tasting Room. Inside, the décor was simple and functional, perhaps not what I expected from a historic estate dating back to 1693 when Governor Simon van der Stel granted land to Joachim Sax, a free Burger from Germany, who first planted vines in 1701. Twelve years later, Olaff and Albertus Berg took ownership of the property – hence the name today of ‘Saxenburg’.



Saxenburg, like Eikendal Vineyards to the South of Stellenbosch, has Swiss owners. The Bührer family bought the property more than 20 years ago and manage the business with the help of their children, Fiona and Vincent. The farm is famed for its Shiraz, for which the terroir especially suits. A wide range of other noble and traditional cultivars are grown on 85 hectares of the 195 hectare estate, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Merlot, Pinotage, Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc and Viognier. Unsurprisingly, reds make up the majority (80%) of the wines produced. Of these, 70% is Shiraz.



I chose the Private Collection tasting (6 wines for R50, waived on purchases above R250) and began with the Brut MCC that I had sampled before in Cape Town. I suspect the bottle had been open for a while (it was almost empty) and that it was not at its best as there were few bubbles in the glass. Those bubbles that were there quickly disappeared. Bubbles in MCC/Champagne hold most of the aromas but I was able to detect lemon and apple notes beneath a yeasty and biscuity presence, developed from 36 months on the lees. The MCC disappointed on the palate, being lightweight and short in the finish. Reading back over my initial post, where I commented on a fresh and lively wine, this too may have been due to the serving condition.


The Sauvignon Blanc was released just 2 months ago and showed brightness in appearance and character. It was made in the warmer fruity style with notes of papaya, passion fruit, guava and grapefruit. Dry and with good acidity it too, like the MCC, was short on the palate.


In contrast, the Chardonnay was my favourite wine of the tasting. Moderately oaked (10 months in 20% new French barrels), woody vanilla and caramel notes complemented rather than overpowered apple, tangerine and citrus lemon in the bouquet. This elegant balance extended to the palate where the aromas and acidity matched for a creamy, full mouthfeel and an extended aftertaste.


The Pinotage, my first for the day, was medium in body with typical purple tinge. It was lighter on the palate than most to show classic juicy, jammy plum and dark cherry flavours. The oak was closed and spiky as is so often the case for young Pinotage (2016) and needs rounding to improve.


Single cultivar Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz wines followed with rising price to R200 a bottle. I liked most the Merlot, unusually poured using an aerator as the bottle was newly opened. This was stereotypical Merlot with forwards, earthy, cedar, cassis aromas with a good intensity albeit of average complexity. Slightly chilled, the pleasant serving temperature did not dull the strength of flavour on the palate that showed a smoothness befitting of its older vintage. It warmed my mouth to hint at more than the stated 13.5% level of alcohol.


My favourite wine of the limited previous tasting was the Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine too was a classic, being bright and forwards on the nose with delicious and inviting red and dark berry fruits. It was already smooth on the palate but, like the Pinotage, needs ageing to develop and open fully.


Last was the Shiraz, the wine of Saxenburg reputation. Intriguingly and interestingly, Syrah (the same cultivar) was the signature grape variety at Boschkloof just a few kilometres away. I pass comment as I had always considered the Stellenbosch region to be famed for superb Cabernet Sauvignon rather than Shiraz/Syrah. I rated this wine highly too as it scored well on appearance, the nose and palate. Forward ripe fruits of cassis, blackberry and spices showed a good intensity that followed through to merge with silky tannins in the mouth that lingered after.



Saxenburg produces decent if not exceptional wines. The visit to the wine farm reinforced my earlier tasting conclusions that always reassures. Some wines were better than others and that is to be expected. I like the focus on single cultivar wines and the honesty in their making. New plantings of 22 hectares of Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz are planned over the next 5 years so the focus on these grape varieties will continue. Meanwhile, Saxenburg puts its heart, mind and soul into its wines ….

Wines tasted (bought *):


NV MCC Brut (80% Chardonnay, 20% Pinot Noir) – R190


2017 Sauvignon Blanc – R105
2016 Chardonnay – R150* FAVOURITE WINE


2016 Pinotage – R140
2012 Merlot – R160
2012 Cabernet Sauvignon – R200
2015 Shiraz – R200


You Might Also Like

Wine on the Slopes at Chamonix

King Chenin Kens (Knows) the Wood from the Trees


Kosie Wynes at Groenland

Shiraz Purrs at Manley Wine Lodge

Lust-ful Reds in the Vineyard

Mutual Attraction

Of Female Rugby Players and Ballet Dancers! Let’s Continuously Study Very Seriously: Wines of the Loire and Northern Rhône

Seven Reasons To Visit Seven Oaks Wines

Quality with Style in the Vineyard

Wines Out of the Barrel at Kanonkop

Beyond Expectation

Wagons to the Cellar at Waboomsrivier

Multi-Faceted Wines on Display at the Vineyard

Groot Phesantekraal an Unexpected Surprise!

Wine Passions Mounted at Cavalli

Swiss Family Sauvignons at Eikendal

The Phoenix Rises from the Terroir at Thelema

Cabsolutely Frankulous at the Carnival

Altitudes with Wine!

In the Highlands in the Lowlands of Elgin

Family Fun at the Greek Harvest Festival

Serenity without Worry or Preoccupation in the Chapel

Iconic Steenberg

Heaven Meets Earth at Bouchard Finlayson

On Yonder Hill There Stands a Vineyard!

The Bestbier Family produces Best Wines at Goede Hoop

Barrels of Fun at My First Stellenbosch Street Soirée

Onderkloof Beats All the Odds Below The Valley

In the Garage in the Heart of McGregor

Lithos Wines Soar above Mountain and Forest

Value for Money from Angel Gabriel in the Vineyard

British Reserve and Excellence at Sumaridge

A Warm Welcome in the Cool Climate at South Hill

No Black Marks at Raka

Sax ‘n’ Berg at the Vineyard

Nala Wines are Well Engineered in the Vineyard

Grape Fun – Stomping Well Worth the Journey!

Honest, Affordable Family Wines at Landskroon

Sweet and Safe Times Pair Well with the Whales

Fun(ny) Times at Lourensford

Purring at the Wines in Tyger Valley

A Family Occasion – the Story behind the Bottle

Boutique de Brendel

Kept Alone at Kaapzicht

Wonderful Grapes at the Vineyard Hotel

At the Bend in the Road in Bot River

Waxing Lyrical about Canto

The Garagiste in the Garage at Sonklip!

Golden Wines at the End of the Rainbow

Bellville to Bellevue to Belle Wines

iWine rather than IMAX at the Cape Gate Mall

Clouds Reign in Stellenbosch

Grand Wines at the Big Top!

Wine Notes Composed at D’Aria

It’s all Art and Wine at Almenkerk

Pedigree Stud Grub at Cavalli

Wines That Don’t Cost The Earth

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

Englishman Meets Mrs English at Classic Lanzerac

Beau-tiful Beau-tique Beau-Constantia

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

Neil’s Vines on the Tr-Ellis in Stellenbosch

The Darling from Darling Steps into the Vineyard

On the Left, but then on the Right …

It’s High Time Again

In the Vineyard with Beyerskloof

Bon Courage and Bon Voyage


How Do You Grow a Vineyard Like Maria?

Perfection is Attainable at Boschkloof Wines

Oh-MG at Anthonij Rupert

Posh Spice in Franschhoek!

Malverne Dis-Clos-ed

Straw Berry Yields for e-Ver-gelegen

Magical Wines Star at Dragonridge

Delaire Graff Wines Sparkle

PicknPay Pairs it again at the Stellenbosch Wine Festival

Great Value in the Swartland

Iona Wines Remain Excellent In and At the Vineyard

Bracing Brakes on the Red Wines at Remhoogte

Late at Lateganskop

Blaauwklippen was Good for a Friday

A Kleine Experience at Zalze

Eq-wine – Fine Wines and Fast Horses!

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

Speed Tasting with Sommelier ‘Royalty’ at my First SASA Meeting

Better than a Fair View Where the Goats do Roam!

Summer Whites …… and Rosés


Elegant Wines Kiss the Lips in the Vineyard

Mulderbosch didn’t quite Meet the Yardstick

More-ish Wines at Môreson

More Still at Tanagra

Trading Wines in the City Bowl

Mooi Mooi Mooi Mooiplaas

Red Chair in the Morning

Maiden Visit to Lord’s Bowled Me Over

Class in Glass at Glenelly

Vista to Verdot at Glen Carlou

Quality Abounds on the Mound at La Motte

Simonsig Excellence Today with a Traditional Legacy

Rijk Tulbagh Gives Name to Cellar and Town

Around the (Old) World in 18 Hours – starting with the European Cuvée!

The Gods Come Home to the Vineyard

Water into Wine at Uitkyk

Mixed Spice at the Pinotage Festival

More than Just a Destination

Rustic Charm at the Altydgedacht Wine Farm

Pastures Anew at Rustenberg

Warwick Wines Win their Colours

The Terroir is Honoured in the Bottle at Springfield

From Palette to Palate to Muratie

Sugar and Spice is Twice as Nice

The Big Easy Tee’s Off in the Vineyard

All is Not Lost in a Safe Port

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

Grape Expectations are Met at Zevenwacht

Dreaming of a Wine Christmas

Family Fun in Pairs at Four Cousins

Wacky – not Tacky – in Robertson

Franschhoek’s Hidden Gem Is Reluctant to Reveal

Big Preparations in the Little Vineyard

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

Tasting Vines at the Vineyard

Au Revoir France!

Verticle Tasting on the Ridge in Elgin

Four Partners (not Cousins) at the Vineyard Hotel

Excelsior Blends Quality with Price

Cabernet Franc – Well Worth a Gamble!

Baby Thrown Out with the Bath Water?

K-eynote W-ines at the V-ineyard

Linga-ring in a Winery in Malawi

Wines to Love on Love Street

Leave a Reply

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