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

Altitudes with Wine!

Onderkloof Beats All the Odds Below The Valley

Tasting Vines at the Vineyard

On the Left, but then on the Right …

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

Family Fun in Pairs at Four Cousins

More than Just a Destination

Leaping to the Right Conclusions

Verticle Tasting on the Ridge in Elgin

Very Cape Wines at Capaia

Wagons to the Cellar at Waboomsrivier

God Bless Slaley and All who Drink with Her

Windfall Offered Unexpected Delights

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

Delaire Graff Wines Sparkle


Oh-MG at Anthonij Rupert

Perfection is Attainable at Boschkloof Wines

Trading Wines in the City Bowl

Exciting, Excellent Keermont

British Reserve and Excellence at Sumaridge

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

Wines Merely to Lust After

Bon Courage and Bon Voyage

Nala Wines are Well Engineered in the Vineyard

Wine Passions Mounted at Cavalli

On Yonder Hill There Stands a Vineyard!

Beau-tiful Beau-tique Beau-Constantia

Multi-Faceted Wines on Display at the Vineyard

My Best Blend at Zandvliet

I Needed to be Guided by the Angel Gabriel

Shiraz Purrs at Manley Wine Lodge

It’s High Time Again

Value for Money from Angel Gabriel in the Vineyard

Mulderbosch didn’t quite Meet the Yardstick

Rain Meets Earth at Newton Johnson

Great Value in the Swartland


Bracing Brakes on the Red Wines at Remhoogte

Serenity without Worry or Preoccupation in the Chapel

Bartinney Clings to the Mountain

How Do You Grow a Vineyard Like Maria?

Sax ‘n’ Berg at the Vineyard

The Darling from Darling Steps into the Vineyard

A Kleine Experience at Zalze

It’s all Art and Wine at Almenkerk

The Phoenix Rises from the Terroir at Thelema

Kept Alone at Kaapzicht

Keermont Farmhouse Redefines Luxury

Red Chair in the Morning

Pastures Anew at Rustenberg

Dreaming of a Wine Christmas

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

Grand Wines at the Big Top!

Superb De Trafford Worthy of Being My 200th Wine Estate

Vista to Verdot at Glen Carlou

Old Oaks at La Bourgogne

One Day, Three Tastings, Five Wines and Seven Sisters

Mutual Attraction

Elegant Wines Kiss the Lips in the Vineyard

From the Angel Gabriel to the Arch Angel

PicknPay Pairs it again at the Stellenbosch Wine Festival

Lust-ful Reds in the Vineyard

Au Revoir France!

Grape Fun – Stomping Well Worth the Journey!

Big Preparations in the Little Vineyard

Wacky – not Tacky – in Robertson

Simonsig Excellence Today with a Traditional Legacy

iWine rather than IMAX at the Cape Gate Mall

The Gods Come Home to the Vineyard

Straw Berry Yields for e-Ver-gelegen

Maiden Visit to Lord’s Bowled Me Over

Fun(ny) Times at Lourensford

Wines That Don’t Cost The Earth

A Family Occasion – the Story behind the Bottle

Four Partners (not Cousins) at the Vineyard Hotel

Rijk Tulbagh Gives Name to Cellar and Town

Iconic Steenberg

Sylvan Vale Wines Good for a Meeting or an Eating

Syrah Pillars of Excellence at Haskell

Barrels of Fun at My First Stellenbosch Street Soirée

Super Surprises at Super Single Vineyards

New Branding for Old-enburg is Perfect

The Big Easy Tee’s Off in the Vineyard

Cabsolutely Frankulous at the Carnival

Wine Dinners are Not For Me

Sugar and Spice is Twice as Nice

Sip Sip Sip and Drip Drip Drip at Domaine des Dieux

Malverne Dis-Clos-ed

Seven Reasons To Visit Seven Oaks Wines

Class in Glass at Glenelly

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

An Early Start at Rietvallei

Beyond Expectation

Water into Wine at Uitkyk

Wines Out of the Barrel at Kanonkop

All is Not Lost in a Safe Port

Better than a Fair View Where the Goats do Roam!

Franschhoek’s Hidden Gem Is Reluctant to Reveal

Where the Lions Roar in the Wild West of Bot Rivier

Purring at the Wines in Tyger Valley

Waxing Lyrical about Canto

Posh Spice in Franschhoek!

Simple Spier

No Blues at Hillcrest

Swiss Family Sauvignons at Eikendal

Villion Pairs with Barton in Bot Rivier

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

Bellville to Bellevue to Belle Wines

Summer Whites …… and Rosés

Neil’s Vines on the Tr-Ellis in Stellenbosch

Wines to Love on Love Street

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

Kosie Wynes at Groenland

Dave Goes Down Under and the Wines Go Up

The Garagiste in the Garage at Sonklip!

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

Classy, Small and Precious Kleinood

Com-fort-able Wines at Fort Simon

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

Eq-wine – Fine Wines and Fast Horses!

Superb Views of Guardian Peak

Grape Expectations are Met at Zevenwacht

At the Bend in the Road in Bot River

Rustic Charm at the Altydgedacht Wine Farm

Iona Wines Remain Excellent In and At the Vineyard

Heaven Meets Earth at Bouchard Finlayson

Wonderful Grapes at the Vineyard Hotel

In the Vineyard with Beyerskloof

Family Fun at the Greek Harvest Festival

Quality with Style in the Vineyard

Englishman Meets Mrs English at Classic Lanzerac

Hearty Food and Wine Brought by the Stork at Hartenberg

Golden Wines at the End of the Rainbow

Wine Notes Composed at D’Aria

Linga-ring in a Winery in Malawi

Quality Abounds on the Mound at La Motte

Clouds Reign in Stellenbosch

Being Creative at Flagstone

Sweet and Safe Times Pair Well with the Whales

Mooi Mooi Mooi Mooiplaas

Groot Phesantekraal an Unexpected Surprise!

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

Rivergold is a Gem Waiting to be Discovered

Only One JC Le Roux Wine Sparkled and Scintilla-ted

All Green at Villiera

The Terroir is Honoured in the Bottle at Springfield

Dornier Disappoints

Peter Falke Didn’t Knock my Socks Off

Late at Lateganskop

Cabernet Franc – Well Worth a Gamble!

K-eynote W-ines at the V-ineyard

In the Highlands in the Lowlands of Elgin

Morgenhof in the Morning

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

Magical Wines Star at Dragonridge

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

Individual Quality at Jordan

Peace but No Rest for Rust en Vrede

Excelsior Blends Quality with Price

In the Garage in the Heart of McGregor

Pedigree Stud Grub at Cavalli

King Chenin Kens (Knows) the Wood from the Trees

Quoin Rock Gently Roars at Knorhoek

Honest, Affordable Family Wines at Landskroon

More Still at Tanagra

Ghostly Clouds Swirl at Spookfontein

Mixed Spice at the Pinotage Festival

The Bestbier Family produces Best Wines at Goede Hoop

Boutique de Brendel

A Warm Welcome in the Cool Climate at South Hill

Joy at Really Tasting the Difference at Esona

No Black Marks at Raka

Blaauwklippen was Good for a Friday

Taking the Garage into the Classroom

Lithos Wines Soar above Mountain and Forest

Wines from the Orchards at Le Pommier


Laibach Shows its Spots

Colmant Sparkled

More-ish Wines at Môreson

Baby Thrown Out with the Bath Water?

Wine on the Slopes at Chamonix

From Palette to Palate to Muratie

Warwick Wines Win their Colours

Relaxing Rosendal

Leave a Reply

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