Englishman Meets Mrs English at Classic Lanzerac
Experience 4.5 Stellenbosch Wine 4.5

Englishman Meets Mrs English at Classic Lanzerac

Friday 1 December 2017

Experience: 4.5/5
Wines: 4.5/5

Cicadas purred in the morning sun in the vineyards as I arrived at Lanzerac, just east of the city centre of Stellenbosch. The approach was both classic and elegant: archetypical white gate posts, tree-lined avenue with hydrangeas beneath; and majestic views on both sides over leafy vines to mountains beyond. Gardeners tidied any leaf that was out of place and sprinklers drenched emerald green lawns in the courtyard facing the classic Cape Dutch Manor House. The obvious construction and workers repairing the Hotel, Restaurant and offices that were burned by an electrical fire in late May 2017 – a major incident for the estate – seemed but an irritation to the serene scene.


Fortunately for me, the Tasting Room (Deli and Spa too) were unaffected. It was extended 3 years ago and oozed a classic English lounge atmosphere that made me – an Englishman – feel very much at home. There was a large fireplace at one end, tapestry covered chairs, gilt framed paintings and exposed beams. The scene was set up for an excellent tasting.


Even better, Lucrecia greeted me with a full glass of MCC. As I sipped, I racked my brain as to where I recently had tasted Lanzerac wines. It may have been at the Saturday morning Neighbourgoods Market at the Old Biscuit Mills in Woodstock, Cape Town but I cannot remember. My attention soon focused back onto the superb MCC, elegant fine bubbles rising in the classic flute glass. Dry to taste, I enjoyed the yeasty baked apple flavours.


It was still just after 9am but the early morning start meant that I had Lucrecia’s undivided attention. The large Tasting Room – and upstairs picnic area above at the rear – would very soon be full with holiday guests and festive visitors. Tasting Room Manager Lucrecia explained how she recruited Stellenbosch University students from the Department of Viticulture and Oenology to cover the extra demand. Thoughtfully, she even selected those who spoke German or Chinese to make the foreign visitors feel at home too.



Lanzerac wines are divided into 3 collections: the Premium (Single Varietal) Range; the Flagship Heritage Range; and the exclusive KV (Keldermeester Versameling) Range. The KV Range, with classy embossed white labels, limited to production of around 1,000 bottles of 3 wines, was first released in 2017 and not included for tasting. Guests can choose between the Premium Tasting (5 from 7 wines from the Premium Range for R70) or the Heritage Tasting (the 3 Flagship wines and the Brut MCC for R150). A further option is a Wine and Chocolate Tasting which pairs 5 Premium wines with 5 selected chocolates. Lucrecia explained how the chocolates change each year to make the closest match as each vintage changes in character and flavour.



Lucrecia spoiled me by including Premium and Heritage wines as well as the chocolate pairing. We began with 4 white wines from the Premium Range, all very competitively priced at R75 to R115 per bottle. The Sauvignon Blanc made a perfect start. The nose was potent with great complexity with inviting aromas of green asparagus with fruity guava, gooseberry and green lemon. It was refreshing, clean and elegant on the palate with a bright acidity. The wine was paired with almond and peach white chocolate. I understood the stone with tropical fruit match but the contrast between crisp wine and oily white chocolate was not to my preference.


The 2017 début Pinotage Rosé made to reflect the historic connection between the estate and the cultivar – Lanzerac made the first commercially bottled Pinotage in 1959 – was a pale salmon in colour that hinted at minimal skin contact of just 2 hours. I liked the dry and light character but wanted more from the shy aromas and strawberry, candyfloss flavours.


I rated the Chenin Blanc and Chardonnay the same. Classic lemon, kiwi, grapefruit, apricot and honey notes defined the Chenin Blanc that lightened on the palate but with good dry acidity. I just preferred the delicately wooded Chardonnay with its unusual but elegant midnight blue capsule. The wine is mostly barrel fermented (70%; 30% is made in stainless steel tanks) with 7-8 months of bâtonnage (lees stirring) before bottling. This gave the wine delicious butterscotch and vanilla notes with baked apple and lemon citrus aromas. The apple flavours followed through well to the palate which had a fuller mouth feel from the oak fermentation and maturation. I did not hesitate to buy a bottle. The wine was paired with lemongrass white chocolate. Again, I could understand the reasoning behind the flavour match with the wine but the textures did not complement each other.


We paused before sampling the red wines from the Premium Range. Lanzerac is owned by a British Consortium and lies at the foot of the Jonkershoek Valley. It dates back to 1692 when Governor Simon van der Stel granted land to Isaac Shrijver and 3 freed slaves. The Manor House dates back to 1830 and is used for weddings and private functions. Forty-six hectares of the 150 hectare property are planted with vines, mostly Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinotage.


The next 4 wines too were classic single variety wines from the Premium Range – Syrah, Merlot, Pinotage and Cabernet Sauvignon – and of similar, decent quality and in elegant dark opaque bottles. The multi-award winning Syrah, new to the Range, was full bodied and fruity spicy. Cassis, mulberry blackberry and pepper spice flavours were slightly overpowered by astringent tannins that later softened on the palate.



The Merlot too was full bodied but the aromas of redcurrant, cedar and raspberry – opening out with plum – more restrained. The flavours softened on the palate as tannins showed their 12 month oak maturation presence. The pairing, with 60% dark chocolate flavoured with cherry and cigar was the best so far.


I liked the Pinotage. Whilst full bodied, the wine was shyer in character than I expected and better for it. Plumy without being too juicy and with a hint of banana, dry and forwards tannins were more rounded than for the Merlot. The chocolate pairing – a black cherry ‘bomb’ coated in dark chocolate – was good too.


Deep ruby and full bodied, the Cabernet Sauvignon showed more on the nose, boosted by a 14% alcohol content. Complexity of cassis, blackberry, mulberry, white spice and black olive aromas was good. Like the other Premium Range reds, tannins were forwards and stronger than the flavours which lightened on the palate. The Cape Malay milk chocolate paired best of all as the cinnamon and nutmeg flavours well balanced the spiciness in the wine.



I was privileged to be able to sample the rest of the Heritage Range (the MCC was the first). Each wine has story behind the name. The lightly wooded Chardonnay was my favourite wine of the tasting. The grapes come from a single vineyard less than a hectare in size and at 375 metres above sea level. I rated the wine highly for its good complexity and focused baked apple and lemon intensity of flavour that followed through to a rounded and smooth, dry finish. It was called Mrs English after Elizabeth Katherina English who, after many changes in ownership, bought the property for £18,000 in 1914. It was called Schoongezicht Farm and she changed the name to Lanzerac after a friend, the French General Lanzerac. Mrs English not only refurbished and altered the homestead and outbuildings but is thought also to have made the first wine from grapes grown at Lanzerac.


The only blend of the tasting, the Le Général – neither pure Bordeaux Blend nor Rhone Blend nor Cape Blend – was named after the renowned First World War General who was known for his courage and offensive in 1918 offensives that finally won the Allied Forces the war. Bottle 3496/6000 was rich and ripe and bold in flavour with presence of complex red and dark fruits as might be expected from the combination of cultivars. Smooth, rounded tannins were the best of any red wine. This was not for drinking alone but the perfect accompaniment for a meal.


The Flagship Pinotage – named Pionier in tribute to the first commercially made Pinotage in 1959 that was released in 1961 to mark the birth of Pinotage as a South African varietal. Lucrecia reminded me of how Professor Abraham Perold of nearby Stellenbosch University in 1925 had crossed Pinot Noir with Cinsault/Hermitage to develop the cultivar. She did not know that the Muratie Estate claims to have supplied the original Pinot Noir vine for the cross. She has tasted the original wine – brown but distinct in flavour. The 2015 vintage, a Platter 5 Star winner and made from the oldest vines on the highest slopes of the estate, was also bold, ripe and fruity. Plum, cherry, blackcurrant and mild banana aromas gave a richness in the glass. The wine was well balanced on the palate as the flavours matched velvety smooth tannins from 18 months in French oak and 14.5% alcohol. This was a great wine indeed.


Lanzerac impressed and I thoroughly enjoyed the tasting. The arrival impression followed through well to the wines. I should like to sample the fare in the deli restaurant too. Lucrecia was an attentive host. She poured each wine in a clean glass that was a nice touch and rarely experienced. Our conversation was easy due to the lack of interruption and her excellent knowledge of wines, and not only for Lanzerac but for other estates in and around Stellenbosch too.


I noticed a pattern in the style of the Premium Range wines. The white wines were forwards with pronounced aromatic notes whilst the flavours of the red wines lightened on the palate with tight and sometimes astringent tannins. I liked the single cultivar approach to the Premium Range too. I shall certainly think of Lanzerac to bring a guest who wants to sample the classic big name cultivars that are grown in South Africa.



The Heritage wines showed a clear step up in quality -price too – and that is not always a given for many estates. I had done well in my tasting and would have liked to have sampled the 3 wines from the KV range: the aptly named Prof, a blend of the Pinotage ‘parents’ of Cinsault and Pinot Noir; the Dok, a Malbec that was the favourite of rugby legend Dr Danie Craven who regularly walked his dog, Bliksem, at Lanzerac; and the Bergpad, a single variety Pinot Blanc, more commonly used in blending and produced only in South Africa at Lanzerac. It matters little as it gives me an excuse – if ever needed – to return ….

Wines tasted (bought *):


NV MCC Brut Blanc de Blancs (100% Chardonnay) – R195


2017 Sauvignon Blanc – R95
2016 Chenin Blanc – R85
2016 Chardonnay – R115*
2016 Mrs English Chardonnay – R450 FAVOURITE WINE


2017 Pinotage Rosé – R75*


2015 Syrah – R140
2015 Merlot – R140
2015 Pinotage – R140
2015 Cabernet Sauvignon – R150
2014 Le Général (46% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 13% Shiraz, 7% Pinotage, 7% Petit Verdot, 7% Malbec) – R450
2015 Pionier Pinotage – R800



You Might Also Like

Ruddy Red and Blanc Sauvignons

Kosie Wynes at Groenland

Red, Red (Spanish) Wine

Simonsig Excellence Today with a Traditional Legacy

Peter Falke Didn’t Knock my Socks Off

Villion Pairs with Barton in Bot Rivier

Where the Lions Roar in the Wild West of Bot Rivier

Water into Wine at Uitkyk

Good Things Come in Twos – at Southern Right too!

Grape Expectations are Met at Zevenwacht

Morgenhof in the Morning

Seven Reasons To Visit Seven Oaks Wines

Real Wines in the Place of God

Dornier Disappoints

I-own-a Wine Farm!

The Bestbier Family produces Best Wines at Goede Hoop

The Big Easy Tee’s Off in the Vineyard

A Kleine Experience at Zalze

High Living on the Stoep Sipping Aged, Luscious Red Wines

Syrah Pillars of Excellence at Haskell

Opening the Book at Elgin Vintners

Only One JC Le Roux Wine Sparkled and Scintilla-ted


Idiom Wines Make a Statement

Superb De Trafford Worthy of Being My 200th Wine Estate

Bartinney Clings to the Mountain

Oh-MG at Anthonij Rupert

Classy, Small and Precious Kleinood

Excellent Unstated Wines and Service – Naturally!

Sax ‘n’ Berg at the Vineyard

A Sparkling Tasting at Charles Fox

Lithos Wines Soar above Mountain and Forest

Idiom Puts on a Festival Master Class

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

Warwick Wines Win their Colours

Peter Puts into Hermanus

The Phoenix Rises from the Terroir at Thelema

It’s all Art and Wine at Almenkerk

Excelsior Blends Quality with Price

Superb Whites in the Near Dark at Mont Blois

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

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

Second Helping – and Tasting – at Oak Valley

Neil’s Vines on the Tr-Ellis in Stellenbosch

Virgin Whites Led Me into the Last Temptation

Com-fort-able Wines at Fort Simon

Lost and Found at Lomond – 100s!

Clouds Reign in Stellenbosch

Grand Wines at the Big Top!

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

Blaauwklippen was Good for a Friday

Mulderbosch didn’t quite Meet the Yardstick

Pinotage Hits a Purple Patch in Paarl

Hard Graft without Grafts at Abingdon Wines – No Hail to the Monkeys

Diemersdal has Six Appeal

Individual Quality at Jordan

Latching onto Superb Wines at De Grendel

Hearty Food and Wine Brought by the Stork at Hartenberg

Keermont Farmhouse Redefines Luxury

Marching into France

Anysbos a Wine Estate to Look Out For

Wonderful Grapes at the Vineyard Hotel

Grape Fun – Stomping Well Worth the Journey!

A Cracker and a Stormer at Paul Wallace

Linga-ring in a Winery in Malawi

King Chenin Kens (Knows) the Wood from the Trees

Same but Different End to the Diploma Lectures

Altitudes with Wine!

Wines from the Orchards at Le Pommier

On Yonder Hill There Stands a Vineyard!

Scary Jan Harmsgat Delivers Elegant Wines

Quoin Rock Gently Roars at Knorhoek

Peace but No Rest for Rust en Vrede

The Garagiste in the Garage at Sonklip!

‘Out of the Office’ at Groot Constantia

Putting Capelands on the Cape Winelands Map!

Pedigree Stud Grub at Cavalli

Wine Dinners are Not For Me

A Cape Wine Master-class

Wines Out of the Barrel at Kanonkop

The Ladies in Red

Sylvan Vale Wines Good for a Meeting or an Eating

Mutual Attraction

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

Malverne Dis-Clos-ed

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

Well and Truly Oaked!

Back to the Future in the Berg of Paarl

Nala Wines are Well Engineered in the Vineyard

A Family Occasion – the Story behind the Bottle

Lemberg Punches Above its Weight

Barrels of Fun at My First Stellenbosch Street Soirée

Perfection is Attainable at Boschkloof Wines

Wines Made to Stand the Taste of Time

From Palette to Palate to Muratie

Pastures Anew at Rustenberg

Cork and Talk with Dave

Laibach Shows its Spots

The Italian Collection at the Vineyard

New Branding for Old-enburg is Perfect

Mooi Mooi Mooi Mooiplaas

Simple Spier

Where Eagles Care

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

Wine Passions Mounted at Cavalli

Eq-wine – Fine Wines and Fast Horses!

Red and White Wines with Frog’s ‘Legs’

Kept Alone at Kaapzicht

Exciting, Excellent Keermont

Bracing Brakes on the Red Wines at Remhoogte

All Green at Villiera

Super Surprises at Super Single Vineyards

Superb Views of Guardian Peak

Swallowing Fine Wines at Paserene

Rickety Tram Passengers at Rickety Bridge

Saxenburg Puts Heart, Mind and Soul into Its Wines

Golden Wines at the End of the Rainbow

Hout Bay Vineyards – Simply the Best!

Multi-Faceted Wines on Display at the Vineyard

Swiss Family Sauvignons at Eikendal

Quality with Style in the Vineyard

Magnifico – Grazie Mille Idiom!

K-eynote W-ines at the V-ineyard

Class in Glass at Glenelly

Bellville to Bellevue to Belle Wines

Maiden Visit to Lord’s Bowled Me Over

In the Vineyard with Beyerskloof

The Early Bird Catches the Wine

One Day, Three Tastings, Five Wines and Seven Sisters

Franschhoek’s Hidden Gem Is Reluctant to Reveal

How Do You Grow a Vineyard Like Maria?

South over the Hills in Elgin

Wines Merely to Lust After

Fish (and other foods) with Wanda!

Elgin Valley is the Cool Wine Tour

God Bless Slaley and All who Drink with Her

Delaire Graff Wines Sparkle

Wines to Love on Love Street

Always a Favourite – Guaranteed to Delight

Leave a Reply

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