Peace but No Rest for Rust en Vrede
Experience 4.0 Stellenbosch Wine 4.0

Peace but No Rest for Rust en Vrede

RUST EN VREDE ESTATE
Thursday 14 March 2019
http://rustenvrede.com/

Experience: 4/5
Wines: 4/5

Rust en Vrede is one of those grand old ladies of South African wine estates that just has to be visited if you are a true wine connoisseur, sooner or later. It was later for me and so I was especially looking forwards. I left Haskell Vineyards and retraced my way back down the Annandale Valley. The beauty of the valley alone makes this area to the South of Stellenbosch worth visiting – no wonder it is called the ‘golden triangle’ – let alone the prospect of some classic Stellenbosch Cabernet Sauvignon. Rust en Vrede, you see, has produced red wines only since the Engelbrecht family bought the estate.

Rust en Vrede

All good reds take time to develop and mature. So has Rust en Vrede. Governor Willem Adriaan van der Stel established the property in 1694. It was not until a hundred years later, from 1780 to 1790, that the first house and the Manor House were built. Roll on another 200 years of property division, fire and neglect, until 1977, and to the restoration of the grand old lady by Springbok rugby legend Jannie Engelbrecht. Jannie and his family, including eldest son and current owner Jean who grew up at Rust en Vrede, have certainly done well.

Rust en Vrede

Rust en Vrede

The large white pillars at the entrance, with their gold lettering, offer a statement of permanence and excellence on one’s arrival. The picturesque setting is enhanced by a tree-lined avenue, with a gentle curve that any budding landscape designer would be proud of. Tidy Syrah flank the driveway at the top of the slope, with Cabernet Sauvignon visible through the trees beyond. The walk from the car park to the Tasting Room, with world-class Restaurant beyond, is along a shady path lined with manicured hydrangeas, their pink flowers fading a little as if a nod to the old lady. The beauty of the approach reminds me of Delaire Graff.

Rust en Vrede

Rust en Vrede

My peace is broken by the busy, long Tasting Room with its impressive display of small to huge wine bottles on one side, opposite the Tasting Counter. I take a pause to look at the temperature controlled underground cellar – the first to be privately owned in South Africa – with its arched vaults for bottle storage. Returning upstairs into the bright and well lit room, I decide to taste at the counter rather than outside where the majority of guests are. Meanwhile, the light jazz music soothes whilst the many staff – impeccably dressed in tan pants and branded polo shirts (blue for boys and black for girls) – bustle about their business.

Rust en Vrede

Rust en Vrede

Kesley is my attentive and polite tasting host. He is a Stellenbosch University student, in his final year studying Actuarial Science, but has quickly built up a good knowledge of the estate and its wines. There are 4 tasting options: the Estate Tasting (4 wines for R60); Vertical Tasting (4 of the Estate wine for R120); Single Vineyard Tasting (4 wines for R120); and All Wines (R150). I chose the Estate Tasting.

Rust en Vrede

Rust en Vrede

All the wines were served at the right temperature in large red wine glasses. The Merlot was the youngest vintage (2017) and the last single variety vintage to be produced. Merlot accounts for 10% of the estate and will in future be used for blending. The wine showed great promise from its ruby red, medium-bodied appearance and fresh, vibrant aromas of cherry and spicy plum. It was let down by tight, bitter tannins on the palate that were too grippy and out of balance with the fruit flavours. I suspected heavier oaking than the 14 months maturation in 10% new and 90% 2nd/3rd fill French oak but the wine was brashly showing its youth.

Rust en Vrede

Rust en Vrede

The 2016 Syrah was far better balanced on the palate. Green tannins showed from the whole bunch fermented grapes, a decision taken due to the drought, but these were less bold. The nose was good too with intense and complex aromas of cassis and other dark fruits, black pepper spiciness and a smoky, savoury bouquet. Kesley also let me taste the 2014 vintage. It was my favourite wine. Like its younger sibling, the wine was matured in 500 litre barrels for 18 months in 33% new French oak. The wine was less smoky but fruitier with a greater complexity of mulberry, cherry, blackberry, cassis and black pepper aromas. The balance between fruit and tannin was best of all to show elegance, poise and power.

Rust en Vrede

Cabernet Sauvignon is the most planted vine (60%) which, like the Merlot and Syrah is planted at 85 to 130 metres above sea level on the lower Helderberg Mountain slopes. The vines are planted on 34 hectares of the 50 hectare property and face mostly North (North-East to North-West) to catch the sun for ripening and to shield them from the prevailing South-East wind. The decomposed granite and sandstone soils give structure and power to the wines.

Rust en Vrede

The wine was a classic Stellenbosch Cabernet Sauvignon and very clearly a South African wine. I needed a fresh glass to taste fully as I picked up Syrah spiciness on first pouring. The wine did everything it should. The nose showed a good intensity of bramble, cassis and black plum fruitiness with an underlay of green herbs, whilst the palate offered grippy but tight tannins. The ageing régime was the same as for the Syrah except for 300 litre barrels. Like the Syrah of the same vintage, the wine showed its youth and needs a good 5-10 years for the tannins to open and soften for a smoother experience.

Rust en Vrede

The final wine of the tasting was The Estate. The simple name for the flagship wine showed the assured confidence of the old lady herself. The 2015 vintage, one of the very best in recent years due to near perfect growing conditions, was the youngest on offer. Wesley explained that it was the first South African wine to rank in the World Top 100 wines by Wine Spectator. The wine has been made for 30 years. It is always blended close to 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Syrah and 10% Merlot (see below for precise amount for this vintage). This was a rich, powerful wine with a heady 14.6% alcohol to match the heady price (R450, rising to R750 for the 2012 vintage).

Rust en Vrede

The nose intrigued as it contradicted. There was obvious complexity of aromas due to the contribution from each of the 3 cultivars – savoury red and dark fruits from the Cabernet Sauvignon, peppery spicy dark fruits from the Syrah, and sweeter red fruits from the Merlot – but I struggled to pick out the individual notes on the nose. It was a paradox I did not fully resolve. The palate was much as I expected. The boldness of the fruits matched the structure and intensity of the tannins. The Estate is a definite food wine and deserving of long ageing.

Rust en Vrede

Rust en Vrede

I learned after that Rust en Vrede means ‘rest and peace’. The peace of the estate, its tranquil setting, immaculate gardens and historic buildings, and the beautiful surrounds was immediately obvious from my arrival in the car park that was filled only with Mercedes, Audi and BMW cars. The premium pricing for the wines thus did not surprise. The Engelbrecht family, however, have hardly rested. Rust en Vrede has won many accolades in the last 40 years. I mentioned the first temperature-controlled underground cellar in private ownership. Nelson Mandela chose a Rust en Vrede wine at his Nobel Peace Prize lunch. The wines and the Restaurant have featured multiple times in Top 100 lists in the world.

Rust en Vrede

Rust en Vrede

Jean Engelbrecht has taken on trusteeship of the property and risen to the challenge which, in his own words, is ‘not just to maintain it – that is your responsibility – but to build on it’. The rest and peace balance well.

Wines tasted (bought *):

Red:

2017 Merlot – R260
2016 Syrah – R295
2014 Syrah – R350 FAVOURITE WINE
2016 Cabernet Sauvignon – R295
2015 Estate (57% Cabernet Sauvignon, 34% Syrah, 9% Merlot) – R450

Rust en Vrede

You Might Also Like

Iconic Steenberg

The Terroir is Honoured in the Bottle at Springfield

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

Wacky – not Tacky – in Robertson

It’s High Time Again

Bellville to Bellevue to Belle Wines

An Early Start at Rietvallei

The Phoenix Rises from the Terroir at Thelema

Sip Sip Sip and Drip Drip Drip at Domaine des Dieux

Joy at Really Tasting the Difference at Esona

Iona Wines Remain Excellent In and At the Vineyard

Summer Whites …… and Rosés

Neil’s Vines on the Tr-Ellis in Stellenbosch

No Black Marks at Raka

From the Angel Gabriel to the Arch Angel

Serenity without Worry or Preoccupation in the Chapel

Englishman Meets Mrs English at Classic Lanzerac

Grape Expectations are Met at Zevenwacht

Mutual Attraction

Baby Thrown Out with the Bath Water?

Sugar and Spice is Twice as Nice

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

Wine Passions Mounted at Cavalli

Rustic Charm at the Altydgedacht Wine Farm

Shiraz Purrs at Manley Wine Lodge

Mixed Spice at the Pinotage Festival

Wines Out of the Barrel at Kanonkop

Magical Wines Star at Dragonridge

Saxenburg Puts Heart, Mind and Soul into Its Wines

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

The Big Easy Tee’s Off in the Vineyard

Mooi Mooi Mooi Mooiplaas

In the Vineyard with Beyerskloof

Villion Pairs with Barton in Bot Rivier

All is Not Lost in a Safe Port

Kosie Wynes at Groenland

Red Chair in the Morning

In the Highlands in the Lowlands of Elgin

Rain Meets Earth at Newton Johnson

On the Left, but then on the Right …

Fun(ny) Times at Lourensford

Bon Courage and Bon Voyage

Wines to Love on Love Street

New Branding for Old-enburg is Perfect

Lithos Wines Soar above Mountain and Forest

Wines That Don’t Cost The Earth

Rivergold is a Gem Waiting to be Discovered

Mulderbosch didn’t quite Meet the Yardstick

Peter Falke Didn’t Knock my Socks Off

A Warm Welcome in the Cool Climate at South Hill

Cabsolutely Frankulous at the Carnival

Family Fun in Pairs at Four Cousins

At the Bend in the Road in Bot River

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

British Reserve and Excellence at Sumaridge

Family Fun at the Greek Harvest Festival

Verticle Tasting on the Ridge in Elgin

Blaauwklippen was Good for a Friday

Big Preparations in the Little Vineyard

Sax ‘n’ Berg at the Vineyard

Bracing Brakes on the Red Wines at Remhoogte

Quality with Style in the Vineyard

Seven Reasons To Visit Seven Oaks Wines

Better than a Fair View Where the Goats do Roam!

Ghostly Clouds Swirl at Spookfontein

Grand Wines at the Big Top!

Boutique de Brendel

My Best Blend at Zandvliet

Heaven Meets Earth at Bouchard Finlayson

Oh-MG at Anthonij Rupert

Delaire Graff Wines Sparkle

Perfection is Attainable at Boschkloof Wines

Malverne Dis-Clos-ed

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

The Garagiste in the Garage at Sonklip!

Wagons to the Cellar at Waboomsrivier

Taking the Garage into the Classroom

Where the Lions Roar in the Wild West of Bot Rivier

Dornier Disappoints

The Darling from Darling Steps into the Vineyard

Groot Phesantekraal an Unexpected Surprise!

Wine Notes Composed at D’Aria

Wines from the Orchards at Le Pommier

The Gods Come Home to the Vineyard

King Chenin Kens (Knows) the Wood from the Trees

Wine on the Slopes at Chamonix

More than Just a Destination

Purring at the Wines in Tyger Valley

Altitudes with Wine!

Wonderful Grapes at the Vineyard Hotel

SMV, SMG, GSM – BLICS and PAPERCLIPS!

Maiden Visit to Lord’s Bowled Me Over

Linga-ring in a Winery in Malawi

Kept Alone at Kaapzicht

In the Garage in the Heart of McGregor

Posh Spice in Franschhoek!

Eq-wine – Fine Wines and Fast Horses!

Honest, Affordable Family Wines at Landskroon

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

Multi-Faceted Wines on Display at the Vineyard

Bartinney Clings to the Mountain

A Kleine Experience at Zalze

Value for Money from Angel Gabriel in the Vineyard

Great Value in the Swartland

Beau-tiful Beau-tique Beau-Constantia

Golden Wines at the End of the Rainbow

Late at Lateganskop

K-eynote W-ines at the V-ineyard

Waxing Lyrical about Canto

Au Revoir France!

Franschhoek’s Hidden Gem Is Reluctant to Reveal

Straw Berry Yields for e-Ver-gelegen

Wines Merely to Lust After

Warwick Wines Win their Colours

Sweet and Safe Times Pair Well with the Whales

Cabernet Franc – Well Worth a Gamble!

Clouds Reign in Stellenbosch

Sa-Bot-Riveur!

More-ish Wines at Môreson

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

Wine Dinners are Not For Me

Syrah Pillars of Excellence at Haskell

Elegant Wines Kiss the Lips in the Vineyard

From Palette to Palate to Muratie

Pedigree Stud Grub at Cavalli

Beyond Expectation

How Do You Grow a Vineyard Like Maria?

Swiss Family Sauvignons at Eikendal

Pastures Anew at Rustenberg

Simonsig Excellence Today with a Traditional Legacy

iWine rather than IMAX at the Cape Gate Mall

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

Vista to Verdot at Glen Carlou

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

A Family Occasion – the Story behind the Bottle

Water into Wine at Uitkyk

Onderkloof Beats All the Odds Below The Valley

Trading Wines in the City Bowl

Tasting Vines at the Vineyard

PicknPay Pairs it again at the Stellenbosch Wine Festival

The Bestbier Family produces Best Wines at Goede Hoop

Class in Glass at Glenelly

Exciting, Excellent Keermont

It’s all Art and Wine at Almenkerk

Blush-endal!

Leaping to the Right Conclusions

Quality Abounds on the Mound at La Motte

Relaxing Rosendal

More Still at Tanagra

Excelsior Blends Quality with Price

Nala Wines are Well Engineered in the Vineyard

I Needed to be Guided by the Angel Gabriel

Rijk Tulbagh Gives Name to Cellar and Town

On Yonder Hill There Stands a Vineyard!

Dreaming of a Wine Christmas

Lust-ful Reds in the Vineyard

Grape Fun – Stomping Well Worth the Journey!

One Day, Three Tastings, Five Wines and Seven Sisters

Four Partners (not Cousins) at the Vineyard Hotel

Barrels of Fun at My First Stellenbosch Street Soirée

Leave a Reply

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