Fun(ny) Times at Lourensford
Experience 4.0 Helderberg Wine 4.0

Fun(ny) Times at Lourensford

Thursday 6 July 2017

Experience: 4/5
Wines: 4/5

It was more than a year ago when I last visited Lourensford and that was not for wine tasting. I was there for Mountain Rescue search dog training. I remember lying in dense grass on slopes above the vineyards waiting to be found by one of the dogs. My partner and I visited the Saturday market afterwards and to taste some wines. Today, I was visiting in more comfort and for tasting only. I had a recent connection too for it was only a few days ago that I had reviewed the humorous and informative little book called ‘The Lighter Side of Wine’. This charming book is illustrated by the wine cartoonist Frans Groenewald, who is the resident artist at Lourensford. I was hoping I might meet him too.

I remembered the wide approach between the entrance gate and parking beside the Tasting Room. A stream runs between the entry and exit lanes, complete with trees and landscaped plantings beside. To the left is a wide expanse of vines, with orchards too on the right later, that give foretaste to this vast property.

Lourensford estate, like Vergelegen, was once part of the original 30,000 hectare farm owned by Willem Adriaan van der Stel in 1700. The land was divided into four farms and sold after he returned to Holland in 1706 following charges of corruption. The property was bought in 1998 by industrialist Dr Christo Wiese who planted the first vines 2000. Wine was made just 3 years later in 2003.

The estate remains huge today: 135 hectares of the 4,000 hectares are under vine. Red and white wines are made in similar amount. All the big name cultivars are grown: Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Viognier, Sémillion, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Shiraz, Pinot Noir and Durif (Petite Syrah). The grapes are planted in blocks of up to 8 hectares in size that are spread throughout the upper slopes to make best available use of the terroir.

Fynbos makes up a further 1,200 hectares with the remainder being forest or fruit farm. Lourensford is a big wine farm that has embraced the current fashion for ‘vinotourism’ as have other vineyards like Boschendal, Groot Constantia, La Motte, Meerendal, Solms-Delta and Vergelegen. The many visitor attractions mean that a whole day is needed to explore all: coffee roastery, chocolate shop, restaurant, art gallery, resident artist, craft brew and, of course, wine tasting.

I parked close by the impressive Tasting Room building. Planted outside in old wine barrels were examplar cultivars, a nice touch that will look even better when in leaf and fruit in the summer. Inside, the décor was grand hotel or gentleman’s club in style: wooden panelling, brown leather sofas and Persian carpets. Kaylis was my attentive tasting host, R40 for any 4 wines and waived for any bottle purchase. I selected 8 wines from the extensive range of MCC, white, red and dessert wines.

The Chardonnay-led Brut MCC made a welcome start to the tasting. The 60 months on the lees showed in the yeasty, toasty and green apple nose and gave a creamy feel to the moussante mouthfeel. I liked too the Estate Sauvignon Blanc made with grapes from the upper slopes of the estate. Bright and very pale straw in colour, the nose was a vibrant mix of gooseberry, green pear, herbaceous and greengage notes that invited more. Fresh lemon emerged on a palate with typical fresh acidity.

I sampled the First Fruit next. Like the MCC it was a blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. The pale salmon blush colour and shy nose made for an easy drinking wine. It needed more oomph for me and I found the thin mouthfeel, follow through and light finish wanting. The Estate Chardonnay was much more to my liking. Light caramel notes from 6-8 months in 2nd fill French oak complemented fresh baked apple for a good intensity. The wine was crisp rather than creamy on the palate and with a moderate finish.

My favourite wine of the tasting was the Limited Release Viognier. Viognier is not widely produced yet one of my favourite wines. The nose was superb and I can understand why this is an award-winning wine. It contained a typical fruity, floral mix of honeysuckle, violet, jasmine, white peach and nectarine. The aromas followed through well to the dry palate with a moderate acidity.

I tasted 2 red wines only: the Estate Shiraz and Limited Release Rhone Blend. The Shiraz showed cool climate character and was lighter in style than most I have tasted. The nose was nonetheless bold berry fruity and peppercorn spicy with dry tannins emerging on the finish. They left a slightly bitter aftertaste that could have been from the Hungarian oak (the wine is matured in 50% French and 50% Hungarian oak). I rated the Shiraz Mouvèdre Viognier slightly higher. Shiraz led (94%), it could easily have been sold as a Shiraz though was less bold and dryer than the single variety Shiraz. The Mouvèdre and Viognier softened the spiciness on the nose and brought better rounding of tannins on the palate.

I finished with the 2014 Sémillion Noble Late Harvest. This was the last vintage produced as there was not enough botrytis in the 2015/2016 harvests. The deep gold colour gave way to delicious, warm fruity aromas of baked peach, ripe sultana and blue-gum honey on the nose. This dessert wine was sweet though not sickly so and with the aromas well integrated on the palate. I bought a bottle.

The highlight of my visit was yet to come though. Kaylis said that Frans Groenewald was likely to be in his studio and gave me directions. His office was a short walk away and easy to find. I had wanted to meet Frans not only because I admire his creativity and humour but also because my father was a humorous cartoonist. I have always enjoyed the observation and skill to see life from a different angle. I felt I had burst into Frans’ office – unannounced and in his workspace – but he could not have been more welcoming. His paintings and cartoons covered the walls of his small well-lit studio.

Much of Frans’ work was for private commission that I did not expect. The work I had seen, the ‘The Lighter Side of Wine’ book included, had been for general sale and enjoyment. Frans told me how much research and detail goes into the private drawings and showed me their development, from sketch to completed painting. As soon as I entered the studio, I remembered that I meant to bring the book to ask Frans to sign. He very kindly drew a little cartoon on my tasting folder that I shall treasure. I did not stay long as I did not wish to impose.


Lourensford impressed. The wines were decent and priced for their quality. This is not always so for the iconic and big name estates, where premium pricing can result in wines that are not value for money. I shall return when I have more time – and with the book to ask Frans to sign – as there is so much more than wine-tasting at Lourensford. A summer visit for more fun is a must!

Wines tasted (bought *):


2011 MCC Brut (85% Chardonnay, 15% Pinot Noir) – R250


2016 Lourensford Sauvignon Blanc – R85
2015 Lourensford Chardonnay – R90
2015 Limited Release Viognier – R155 FAVOURITE WINE


2016 Lourensford Forest Fruit (60% Chardonnay, 40% Pinot Noir) – R70


2015 Lourensford Shiraz – R115
2015 Limited Release Shiraz Mouvèdre Viognier (94% Shiraz, 3% Mouvèdre, 3% Viognier) – R180


2014 Limited Release Noble Late Harvest (375ml) – R135*

You Might Also Like

Horsepower in the Vineyard

Bon Courage and Bon Voyage

Warwick Wines Win their Colours

The Phoenix Rises from the Terroir at Thelema

Very Cape Wines at Capaia

Groot Phesantekraal an Unexpected Surprise!

The Gods Come Home to the Vineyard

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

Magical Wines Star at Dragonridge


All Green at Villiera

In the Highlands in the Lowlands of Elgin

Where the Lions Roar in the Wild West of Bot Rivier

An Early Start at Rietvallei

Diploma Done and Dusted – But for the Final Result – I Passed!

Verticle Tasting on the Ridge in Elgin

Purring at the Wines in Tyger Valley

Baby Thrown Out with the Bath Water?

Four Partners (not Cousins) at the Vineyard Hotel

Summer Whites …… and Rosés

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

Lust-ful Reds in the Vineyard

Peace but No Rest for Rust en Vrede

View from the E-Skaap-ment

Franschhoek’s Hidden Gem Is Reluctant to Reveal

The Terroir is Honoured in the Bottle at Springfield

Mixed Spice at the Pinotage Festival


Clouds Reign in Stellenbosch

In the Garage in the Heart of McGregor

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

Idiom Wines Make a Statement

Windfall Offered Unexpected Delights

Sip Sip Sip and Drip Drip Drip at Domaine des Dieux

Bracing Brakes on the Red Wines at Remhoogte

Heaven Meets Earth at Bouchard Finlayson

Value for Money from Angel Gabriel in the Vineyard

All is Not Lost in a Safe Port

Straw Berry Yields for e-Ver-gelegen

The Garagiste in the Garage at Sonklip!

Wine on the Slopes at Chamonix

Wines Made to Stand the Taste of Time

My Best Blend at Zandvliet

iWine rather than IMAX at the Cape Gate Mall

It’s High Time Again

At the Bend in the Road in Bot River

Vista to Verdot at Glen Carlou

Posh Spice in Franschhoek!

Being Creative at Flagstone

Morgenhof in the Morning

Wacky – not Tacky – in Robertson

K-eynote W-ines at the V-ineyard

Bellville to Bellevue to Belle Wines

Pastures Anew at Rustenberg

Malverne Dis-Clos-ed

Try as I Could I Did not Find Waterkloof Wines Dynamic

Rustic Charm at the Altydgedacht Wine Farm

Boutique de Brendel

Seven Reasons To Visit Seven Oaks Wines

Dave Goes Down Under and the Wines Go Up

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

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

Old Oaks at La Bourgogne

Putting Capelands on the Cape Winelands Map!

Maiden Visit to Lord’s Bowled Me Over

One Day, Three Tastings, Five Wines and Seven Sisters

Linga-ring in a Winery in Malawi

Ghostly Clouds Swirl at Spookfontein

Shiraz Purrs at Manley Wine Lodge

Water into Wine at Uitkyk

Perfection is Attainable at Boschkloof Wines

In the Vineyard with Beyerskloof

Joy at Really Tasting the Difference at Esona

Sax ‘n’ Berg at the Vineyard

Waterf-ord More Ord-inary Than Extra-ord-inary

Better than a Fair View Where the Goats do Roam!

Nala Wines are Well Engineered in the Vineyard

Rain Meets Earth at Newton Johnson

Serenity without Worry or Preoccupation in the Chapel

More Still at Tanagra

Wines Out of the Barrel at Kanonkop

Onderkloof Beats All the Odds Below The Valley

Au Revoir France!

Honest, Affordable Family Wines at Landskroon

Cabsolutely Frankulous at the Carnival

Family Fun in Pairs at Four Cousins

More than Just a Destination

Dreaming of a Wine Christmas

Excelsior Blends Quality with Price

Leaping to the Right Conclusions

Blaauwklippen was Good for a Friday

Iona Wines Remain Excellent In and At the Vineyard

Great Value in the Swartland

How Do You Grow a Vineyard Like Maria?

Swiss Family Sauvignons at Eikendal

Individual Quality at Jordan

Neil’s Vines on the Tr-Ellis in Stellenbosch

From the Angel Gabriel to the Arch Angel

Wine Notes Composed at D’Aria

Wines to Love on Love Street

Hazendal Fit for a Tsar, a Hare and a God of Wine

Big Preparations in the Little Vineyard

From Palette to Palate to Muratie

Villion Pairs with Barton in Bot Rivier

Quoin Rock Gently Roars at Knorhoek

The Darling from Darling Steps into the Vineyard

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

Rijk Tulbagh Gives Name to Cellar and Town

Sweet and Safe Times Pair Well with the Whales

Rivergold is a Gem Waiting to be Discovered

Mooi Mooi Mooi Mooiplaas

Wines Merely to Lust After

Mulderbosch didn’t quite Meet the Yardstick

Grape Expectations are Met at Zevenwacht

More-ish Wines at Môreson

Iconic Steenberg

Altitudes with Wine!

PicknPay Pairs it again at the Stellenbosch Wine Festival

British Reserve and Excellence at Sumaridge

Trading Wines in the City Bowl

Colmant Sparkled

Red Chair in the Morning

Wagons to the Cellar at Waboomsrivier

Sugar and Spice is Twice as Nice

On Yonder Hill There Stands a Vineyard!

Grand Wines at the Big Top!

Quality with Style in the Vineyard

Class in Glass at Glenelly

Lithos Wines Soar above Mountain and Forest

Barrels of Fun at My First Stellenbosch Street Soirée

A Family Occasion – the Story behind the Bottle

On the Left, but then on the Right …

The Big Easy Tee’s Off in the Vineyard

No Black Marks at Raka

Quality Abounds on the Mound at La Motte

Cabernet Franc – Well Worth a Gamble!

Kosie Wynes at Groenland

Relaxing Rosendal

Multi-Faceted Wines on Display at the Vineyard

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

Mutual Attraction

I Needed to be Guided by the Angel Gabriel

A Warm Welcome in the Cool Climate at South Hill

Beau-tiful Beau-tique Beau-Constantia


Wines That Don’t Cost The Earth

Oh-MG at Anthonij Rupert

Tasting Vines at the Vineyard

Family Fun at the Greek Harvest Festival

Waxing Lyrical about Canto

Late at Lateganskop

Taking the Garage into the Classroom

No Blues at Hillcrest

Elegant Wines Kiss the Lips in the Vineyard

Beyond Expectation

Simple Spier

Saxenburg Puts Heart, Mind and Soul into Its Wines

It’s all Art and Wine at Almenkerk


  1. Wine Passions Mounted at Cavalli – Cape Wine Lovers Society

    […] with no alternative arrangement. I headed instead for the iconic estates of Vergelegen and Lourensford, then North to scenic Yonder Hill and busy Eikendal. I reckoned I had time for one last tasting. […]

  2. Pedigree Stud Grub at Cavalli – Cape Wine Lovers' Society

    […] The estate was looking even better than it had at the end of a day of tasting at Vergelegen, Lourensford, Yonder Hill and Eikendal vineyards. The expansive, contemporary building, complete with modern art […]

Leave a Reply

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