Bellville to Bellevue to Belle Wines
Experience 4.0 Stellenbosch Wine 4.0

Bellville to Bellevue to Belle Wines

BELLEVUE ESTATE
Thursday 18 January 2018
http://bellevue.co.za/

Experience: 4/5
Wines: 4/5

If it wasn’t for Instagram I would not have visited Bellevue today. I am sure I would have done sooner or later but the social media presence caught my eye. Besides, I had not visited the Bottleray Road area to the North-West of Stellenbosch for tasting before. It made sense to combine the two.

Bellevue

I decided to avoid the early N1/N2 rush hour and took a cross-country route via Bellville. My decision paid off and I was little held up by commuter traffic. It surprised after living in Cape Town for over 6 years that I had not travelled this road before. No sooner than I was thinking how drab the cement-faced ‘cookie cutter’ apartment houses looked, huddled together beneath ugly electricity pylons marching across the veld and seemingly dropped onto wasteland with an equally drab concrete wall around, did I suddenly leave them behind to emerge amid luscious green vineyards.

Bellevue

Bellevue was easy to find with its impressive and unusual double entrance gate. The rough gravel road over a cattle grid led past barrels giving direction to the Tasting Room. At the critical point, where I should have turned right into a fenced enclosure, the signage vanished. As a result, I took a self-guided impromptu tour via the vineyards, a private house and worker’s village until a phone call re-directed me to where I needed to be.

Bellevue

Bellevue

Bellevue is a historic property complete with 17th century signal cannon set on the lawn in front of the restored 1803 Cape Dutch homestead. The estate has been in the Morkel family since 1861. The original owner, Philip Morkel, was of German descent. He arrived in Cape Town by ship and married a South African woman, became a ‘Free Burger’ (citizen), and established the family lineage here. The land was originally farmland with some vines but it was not until the early 1950s when P K Morkel replanted the estate with many of the vines that remain today.

Bellevue

Bellevue

Ancient meets modern in the Tasting Room that was opened in December 2016 in a converted wine cellar. The space is open and well laid out, with wines displayed on wooden shelving behind the bar counter, an inviting brandy and gin distillery at the end opposite the entrance, and wide doors opening out into a shady garden with extra seating. There’s a restaurant too and I began to regret having had breakfast before leaving home.

Bellevue

Josh was my polite, smiling and attentive tasting host and I was fortunate later to meet 4th generation owner Dirkie Morkel who was interested in my opinion of his wines. The Tasting fee is R40 for 5 wines but somehow I managed to taste the Bellevue selection. The estate grows 11 cultivars (mostly reds) on 152 hectares of the 291 hectare property. Many of the vines are over 40 years old, including some of the oldest blocks of Cinsault (1952), Pinotage (1953) and Chenin Blanc (1976) in the country. Unsurprisingly, the tasting selection contained some special and interesting wines.

Bellevue

The Sauvignon Blanc was the first of 3 white wines I tasted. Made in fruity style, there were leafy herb and green pepper notes beneath the fresh citrus lemon, grapefruit, litchi and passion fruit aromas to give the wine a good intensity. I liked the bright but not brash acidity and clean mouth feel. The finish was shorter than I would have preferred but this was after all a steal at R60 per bottle.

Bellevue

The unwooded Chardonnay was even greater value (R45) and a wine I rated higher – and so it was a ‘no brainer’ to buy a bottle. This was simple, easy drinking Chardonnay, with unfussy lemon, apple and litchi flavours unadorned by oak. The acidity was positive to leave a smooth, creamy texture on the palate.

Bellevue

Dirkie was intrigued by my impressions of the Muscat D’Alexandrie. It was certainly a striking and unusual wine, one of those where the nose and palate do not match. The sweet and very fruity bouquet was full of ripe apricots, litchi, raisins and grapes. Served in a black ‘blind’ tasting glass and I might have thought the wine was a Noble Late Harvest, possibly either a Viognier (though there wasn’t the typical white pear or jasmine of the cultivar) or a Gewürztraminer (not quite, as there were insufficient rose floral notes). The fruitiness fell away on the palate that was clean and bone dry with moderate acidity. Pear and geranium lingered at the finish. I was unsure, Dirkie perhaps too, whether the wine offered the ‘best of both’ worlds of playful, apparent sweet wine with a serious, dry mouthfeel, or ‘fell between 2 stools’ to appeal to neither novice nor connoisseur wine drinker. It would certainly pair well with a Thai or Indian spice dish or even smoked salmon. I suggested considering making a prosecco-style sparkling wine that are certainly the rage in the UK and Europe at the moment but yet to be made in any degree in South Africa. It would fill a gap in the wine range too.

Bellevue

The tasting turned to the serious business of the red wines. I bought a bottle of the Cinsault, a cultivar is one parent of Pinotage (the other being Pinot Noir) and that has to large extent been eclipsed by Pinotage. Common in Languedoc, France, Morocco and Lebanon, it was long used as a blending grape. Made from 65-year old vines, expect to see more of the variety in South Africa in the future as it has good drought-resistant properties. It makes an elegant Pinot Noir-like wine, slightly sweeter and without as much spice and is generally unwooded. I liked the sweet cherry and raspberry flavours and low acidity. It was served slightly chilled too that made for a light and refreshing dry wine.

Bellevue

The Shiraz was made in lighter than usual style – being just full-bodied with purple ruby tinge – and showed delicate aromas of spicy white peppercorn, fruity blackberry and blackcurrant on the nose. There were none of the perfumed violet notes that would mark it out as a cool climate Shiraz. This was an ‘easy-drinking’ Shiraz.

Bellevue

Pinotage is a cultivar that, like comics, I tend to either like or hate. There’s little middle ground. I tasted the Estate and PK Morkel Pinotage side by side to compare. Their origins and making were not the same: the Estate wine came from 22 year old vines and matured for 12 months in American oak, whilst the PK Morkel wine was made from the oldest, 65 year old vines and kept in French oak. They were quite different in appearance and taste.

Bellevue

The Estate wine was a classic Pinotage in appearance and nose: fruit-driven with a heady 14.5% alcohol, with juicy notes of red plum and black cherry, with slight spice and hints of banana and acetone. It surprised on the palate being lighter in feel than I expected. The American oak gave sweetness to the wine that made it almost Pinot Noir-like in character.

Bellevue

The PK Morkel wine was totally different. Dusty, dusky aromas of plum, cherry and graphite gave it an almost ‘Burgundian’ Old World character. The 2010 vintage was developing well as the tannins were balanced, smooth and integrated. I liked it and I am sure it will improve with age.

Bellevue

Malbec, another favourite minor cultivar of mine, was my final wine for tasting. Argentina’s best known grape, it is grown in small amounts in South Africa (0.5% by area) and, like Cinsault, becoming increasingly popular as a single variety interest wine. Warmer climate Malbecs have a defining ‘blueberry’ smell that I was able to detect alongside bitter cherry, redcurrant, buchu and mint. The wine was a great medium ruby colour, just full-bodied, with average acidity and soft light tannins. This was another bottle I could not resist buying.

Bellevue

Bellevue

Bellevue, with its historic roots and ancient vines, was another of those estates that I had little heard of before and whose wines I cannot remember if ever I had tasted. Such is the power of social media. The wine portfolio was varied and interesting, with wines to suit a range of tastes, palates and prices (white wines especially). They were honestly and well made too. It did not surprise to learn that the Restaurant and Tasting Room are busy at weekends as the location is equally suited to people living in Stellenbosch or on the East side of Cape Town. I would certainly travel from the Southern Suburbs to taste again. Oh, and I wish Dirkie well with the Muscat D’Alexandrie ….

Wines tasted (bought *):

White:

2017 Sauvignon Blanc – R60
2016 Unwooded Chardonnay – R45*
2017 Muscat D’Alexandrie – R50

Red:

2015 Cinsault – R70*
2016 Shiraz – R60
2012 Pinotage – R100
2010 PK Morkel Pinotage – R225
2014 Malbec – R100* FAVOURITE WINE

Bellevue

You Might Also Like

More than Just a Destination

All is Not Lost in a Safe Port

Pedigree Stud Grub at Cavalli

Iconic Steenberg

Oh-MG at Anthonij Rupert

Lust-ful Reds in the Vineyard

The Gods Come Home to the Vineyard

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

Sweet and Safe Times Pair Well with the Whales

Magical Wines Star at Dragonridge

Big Preparations in the Little Vineyard

Blush-endal!

It’s all Art and Wine at Almenkerk

A Family Occasion – the Story behind the Bottle

Mixed Spice at the Pinotage Festival

Family Fun in Pairs at Four Cousins

Sax ‘n’ Berg at the Vineyard

Bracing Brakes on the Red Wines at Remhoogte

A Kleine Experience at Zalze

K-eynote W-ines at the V-ineyard

Eq-wine – Fine Wines and Fast Horses!

The Phoenix Rises from the Terroir at Thelema

Trading Wines in the City Bowl

Class in Glass at Glenelly

Dreaming of a Wine Christmas

Purring at the Wines in Tyger Valley

King Chenin Kens (Knows) the Wood from the Trees

Wagons to the Cellar at Waboomsrivier

Iona Wines Remain Excellent In and At the Vineyard

Wine Notes Composed at D’Aria

The Garagiste in the Garage at Sonklip!

iWine rather than IMAX at the Cape Gate Mall

Rustic Charm at the Altydgedacht Wine Farm

Warwick Wines Win their Colours

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

Golden Wines at the End of the Rainbow

Water into Wine at Uitkyk

Grape Fun – Stomping Well Worth the Journey!

Elegant Wines Kiss the Lips in the Vineyard

Bon Courage and Bon Voyage

Wines to Love on Love Street

Red Chair in the Morning

How Do You Grow a Vineyard Like Maria?

Family Fun at the Greek Harvest Festival

Maiden Visit to Lord’s Bowled Me Over

Wacky – not Tacky – in Robertson

Malverne Dis-Clos-ed

Verticle Tasting on the Ridge in Elgin

Great Value in the Swartland

Englishman Meets Mrs English at Classic Lanzerac

Mulderbosch didn’t quite Meet the Yardstick

The Big Easy Tee’s Off in the Vineyard

Linga-ring in a Winery in Malawi

Straw Berry Yields for e-Ver-gelegen

Groot Phesantekraal an Unexpected Surprise!

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

In the Vineyard with Beyerskloof

Neil’s Vines on the Tr-Ellis in Stellenbosch

Kosie Wynes at Groenland

Fun(ny) Times at Lourensford

More Still at Tanagra

Mutual Attraction

Cabernet Franc – Well Worth a Gamble!

Quality with Style in the Vineyard

Grand Wines at the Big Top!

Beau-tiful Beau-tique Beau-Constantia

On Yonder Hill There Stands a Vineyard!

Pastures Anew at Rustenberg

Wines That Don’t Cost The Earth

The Bestbier Family produces Best Wines at Goede Hoop

Value for Money from Angel Gabriel in the Vineyard

Tasting Vines at the Vineyard

Beyond Expectation

Heaven Meets Earth at Bouchard Finlayson

No Black Marks at Raka

Simonsig Excellence Today with a Traditional Legacy

Waxing Lyrical about Canto

Summer Whites …… and Rosés

Four Partners (not Cousins) at the Vineyard Hotel

It’s High Time Again

Wines Out of the Barrel at Kanonkop

Altitudes with Wine!

Multi-Faceted Wines on Display at the Vineyard

From Palette to Palate to Muratie

Serenity without Worry or Preoccupation in the Chapel

The Terroir is Honoured in the Bottle at Springfield

British Reserve and Excellence at Sumaridge

Swiss Family Sauvignons at Eikendal

In the Highlands in the Lowlands of Elgin

Wine on the Slopes at Chamonix

Clouds Reign in Stellenbosch

Excelsior Blends Quality with Price

Delaire Graff Wines Sparkle

Grape Expectations are Met at Zevenwacht

Saxenburg Puts Heart, Mind and Soul into Its Wines

Mooi Mooi Mooi Mooiplaas

Perfection is Attainable at Boschkloof Wines

Seven Reasons To Visit Seven Oaks Wines

Kept Alone at Kaapzicht

Barrels of Fun at My First Stellenbosch Street Soirée

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

In the Garage in the Heart of McGregor

Wine Passions Mounted at Cavalli

Nala Wines are Well Engineered in the Vineyard

Quality Abounds on the Mound at La Motte

3 Comments

  1. The Bestbier Family produces Best Wines at Goede Hoop – Cape Wine Lovers' Society

    […] Road, North-West of Stellenbosch, located between Hazendal (currently closed for refurbishment) and Bellevue. It’s on square C3 of the Stellenbosch map in the back of the 2018 Platter’s Guide if you’re […]

  2. Kosie Wynes at Groenland – Cape Wine Lovers' Society

    […] for the second time in less than a week. I had to cut my recent visit short after tasting at Bellevue and Goede Hoop, so was keen to return […]

  3. Mooi Mooi Mooi Mooiplaas – Cape Wine Lovers' Society

    […] that I did. Today was my second day in less than a week visiting the Bottleray Road vineyards – Bellevue, Goede Hoop, Groenland and Kaapzicht – and Mooiplaas beckoned me for being so close and because I […]

Leave a Reply

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