History in Every Glass at Overgaauw
Experience 4.0 Stellenbosch Wine 4.0

History in Every Glass at Overgaauw

Tuesday 20 August 2019

Dr Peter Rating – Experience: 4/5
Dr Peter Rating –
Wines: 4/5

I had passed Overgaauw many times without ever having visited which was remiss of me. Today, as I ventured along the start of the Stellenbosch Kloof Valley to the West of Stellenbosch, I had reason to put that right. I was searching for rare South African cultivars for my first, upcoming Dr Peter Masterclass. The theme was ‘Light & Like Whites’ and Overgaauw was the only wine producer in the country to make Sylvaner. More on that later.


I knew where the wine estate was having seen the simple white entrance whilst en route to Super Single Vineyards, De Waal Wines, Jordan Wine Estate and DeMorgenzon. The crimson red letter ‘O’ to the large, black Overgaauw in Germanic letters on the whitewash wall gave clue to the old Dutch origins and history of the estate. I parked beside the small tasting building under dappled shade from the trees outside. The setting was idyllic as I looked along the valley and to the vineyards beyond.


I was met by Suzanne. It was good to meet her as we had exchanged emails many times for me to arrange the visit (tasting is by appointment only) and to collect the Sylvaner. The Tasting Room, purposely built in 1973 in the Victorian tin-roofed former shepherd’s cottage, was cosy and elegant yet simple with large central yellowwood table. Historic, family photos and prints lined the blush pink painted walls. Sixty hectares of the 100-hectare property are under vine. The Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Pinotage, Touriga Nacional, Sauvignon Blanc and Sylvaner make up a small selection of estate wines of which the majority (60%) are red. I sampled 4 of those listed; the Sylvaner later and, as I did so learned of the long and fascinating history of Overgaauw.


The crisp Abraham Sauvignon Blanc made a good start. Elegant fresh green and tropical notes – of bell pepper, asparagus, citrus and pineapple – made for a complex and enticing nose. The acidity was fresh and fruity on the palate – ‘frispy’ as the Americans would say – aided by early morning harvest and rapid cooling to 3ºC for 24 hours to preserve the delicate aromas. The name ‘Abraham’ heralds back to the founding of Overgaauw in 1905 by Abraham van Velden. He named the farm after his maternal grandmother Elizabeth Overgaauw who took care of him when he was orphaned whilst just one year old. Abraham, known as ‘Oupa Valie’, was the first winemaker and obvious pioneer. Four generations ago, he planted the first vines and, four years later, built the cellar (for bulk wines then, of course).


Merlot, Suzanne explained, produced such good grapes that Overgaauw decided in 1982 to make it into a single-variety wine, the first South African estate to do so. The vines were Italian clones that replaced those planted in 1973 that were infected with leaf-roll virus. The wine was a promising ruby to garnet red in colour and with a fresh fruity nose of redcurrant, red cherry, red plum and sweet spice. The texture was silky on the palate with mint flavours emerging on the nose to add complexity to the fruit flavours, aided by 18 months maturation in 2nd fill French oak barrels.



Three years earlier, in 1979, and Overgaauw gained another first. Third generation Braam van Velden, only son of David van Velden Snr, took over in 1973. Viticulture as well as winemaking became his passion and, after a year of study in Germany, he returned to map the farm’s soils and to match varieties to the terroir. White cultivars took up 90% of plantings. However, in 1979 Overgaauw produced the first South African Bordeaux-style blend, the Tria Corda. I would have liked to have tasted that original vintage (I wonder if any still exists) and had to settle for the 2014 wine. The original blend was made up of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cinsault and Merlot but since 1982 the Tria Corda has been a blend of the more classic Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. The percentages of each vintages vary but the wine I sampled was Cabernet Sauvignon-led (68%) to show a deeper colour than the Merlot. Fresh without being over-ripe, I liked the dark cassis, mulberry, cherry and blackberry fruits with their hint of chocolate on the nose. The wine had excellent structure and was well textured with the oft-angular Cabernet tannins rounded off to make a well-balanced wine with good length.


The final wine I tasted (and bought) was one of the oldest I have tasted at a South African tasting, and my favourite wine. It was the 1998 Cape Vintage Port. Another first for Overgaauw was the planning in 1945 of Portuguese varieties – Tinta Barocca, Tinta Francisca, Cornifesto, Souzão and Tinta Roriz – by Abraham’s son and second winemaker, David Senior. These were harvested and crushed together, in Portuguese traditional manner, albeit a first for South Africa and a tradition that continues to this day. The Cape Port is aged for 2½ years in 4,000 litre casks (60% new, 40% 2nd fill French oak).and not released until bottled matured for 10 years. The deep ruby wine showed classic fruity Christmas cake spice aromas with dried plums and prunes and cinnamon. The alcohol (fortified to 19% with brandy spirit) was less spirity on the nose than for many a Cape Port due its integration from the long ageing. The Port was well-balanced on the palate with a smooth but not over-sweet fruity taste; the residual sugar (RS) is 83 grams/litre to make a dryer Port than most, which typically contain a RS of 90-120 grams/litre. The wine made an excellent end to the tasting.


[Afternote: I tasted the Sylvaner at my first Dr Peter Masterclass on 26 August. The cultivar was Germany’s most widely grown in the 20th century until the higher producing Müller-Thurgau took over. Sylvaner continues to be grown in the Nahe, Rheinhessen and the Rheinpfalz where Riesling struggles to ripen (Sylvaner ripens 2 weeks earlier). The first Sylvaner was planted at Overgaauw by David Senior in the 1960s. One hectare remains today, and it is grown nowhere else in South Africa. The unwooded wine, in Riesling shaped bottle, has delicate white stone fruit aromas of pear, apricot and peach to make for a very light, simple wine with a natural high acidity].



Overgaauw was a treat to behold and well worth making an appointment to taste the distinct and often unique wines. Like the history, there was much about Overgaauw that was unstated to show an estate with poise and purpose, proud of its 4 generation of winemakers and pioneering traditions. I could have mentioned above that Overgaauw was also: the first South African producer to use French barriques to mature Cabernet Sauvignon (1970); to produce Cinsault (also 1970); a founder member of the Stellenbosch Wine Route (1973); and a founder member of the Cape Wine Makers’ Guild (1984). Current winemaker David van Velden seeks to consolidate on the past and to focus on the heritage of the estate. I would not be surprised though if the pioneering spirit remains and Overgaauw champions more firsts in South African winemaking.

#capewinelover #DrPeter

Wines tasted (bought *):


2018 Abraham Sauvignon Blanc – R160
2016 Sylvaner – R160*


2017 Merlot – R190
2014 Tria Corda (68% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, 7% Cabernet Franc) – R390


1998 DC Classic Cape Vintage Port (20% Touriga Nacional, 16% Tinta Barocca, 16% Tinta Francisca, 16% Cornifesto, 16% Souzão, 16% Tinta Roriz) – R330* FAVOURITE WINE


You Might Also Like

Nala Wines are Well Engineered in the Vineyard

Bracing Brakes on the Red Wines at Remhoogte

British Reserve and Excellence at Sumaridge

A Family Occasion – the Story behind the Bottle

Stellenrust Eagerly Impresses

Dave Goes Down Under and the Wines Go Up

Big Preparations in the Little Vineyard

Verticle Tasting on the Ridge in Elgin

PicknPay Pairs it again at the Stellenbosch Wine Festival

Rustic Charm at the Altydgedacht Wine Farm

Simple Spier

Malverne Dis-Clos-ed

Laibach Shows its Spots

Quoin Rock Gently Roars at Knorhoek

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


Summer Whites …… and Rosés

More-ish Wines at Môreson

Wine Dinners are Not For Me

Red and White Cab – and So Much More – at Asara

One Day, Three Tastings, Five Wines and Seven Sisters

Mooi Mooi Mooi Mooiplaas

Class in Glass at Glenelly

God Bless Slaley and All who Drink with Her

In the Highlands in the Lowlands of Elgin

Perfection is Attainable at Boschkloof Wines

The Big Easy Tee’s Off in the Vineyard

Purring at the Wines in Tyger Valley

The Bestbier Family produces Best Wines at Goede Hoop

Perdeberg Earns Its Stripes

Fun(ny) Times at Lourensford

Clouds Reign in Stellenbosch

Super Surprises at Super Single Vineyards

It’s High Time Again

Putting into Port at De Krans

Linga-ring in a Winery in Malawi

Magical Wines Star at Dragonridge

Leaping to the Right Conclusions

Eq-wine – Fine Wines and Fast Horses!

Better than a Fair View Where the Goats do Roam!

Kosie Wynes at Groenland

Keermont Farmhouse Redefines Luxury

Vista to Verdot at Glen Carlou

Alto Reaches Heights with the M.P.H.S.

Family Fun in Pairs at Four Cousins

Franschhoek’s Hidden Gem Is Reluctant to Reveal

Peter Falke Didn’t Knock my Socks Off

Warwick Wines Win their Colours

How Do You Grow a Vineyard Like Maria?

Only One JC Le Roux Wine Sparkled and Scintilla-ted

Seven Reasons To Visit Seven Oaks Wines

Excelsior Blends Quality with Price


Windfall Offered Unexpected Delights

Swiss Family Sauvignons at Eikendal

Dornier Disappoints

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

Iona Wines Remain Excellent In and At the Vineyard

Boutique de Brendel

All Green at Villiera

I Needed to be Guided by the Angel Gabriel

King Chenin Kens (Knows) the Wood from the Trees

On the Left, but then on the Right …

Cabernet Franc – Well Worth a Gamble!

Straw Berry Yields for e-Ver-gelegen

It’s all Art and Wine at Almenkerk

Bon Courage and Bon Voyage

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

Value for Money from Angel Gabriel in the Vineyard

The Garagiste in the Garage at Sonklip!

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

Lovane Serves its Guests Well

Wacky – not Tacky – in Robertson

Pedigree Stud Grub at Cavalli

Iconic Steenberg

The Terroir is Honoured in the Bottle at Springfield

Being Creative at Flagstone

Au Revoir France!

Mulderbosch didn’t quite Meet the Yardstick

Honest, Affordable Family Wines at Landskroon

New Branding for Old-enburg is Perfect

Mixed Spice at the Pinotage Festival

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

Morgenhof in the Morning

iWine rather than IMAX at the Cape Gate Mall

Beyond Expectation

Wines from the Orchards at Le Pommier

Shiraz Purrs at Manley Wine Lodge

A Warm Welcome in the Cool Climate at South Hill

Wine Notes Composed at D’Aria

Syrah Pillars of Excellence at Haskell

Family Fun at the Greek Harvest Festival

Heaven Meets Earth at Bouchard Finlayson

Wine Passions Mounted at Cavalli

No Blues at Hillcrest

In the Vineyard with Beyerskloof

Hidden Valley and Its Wines are Revealed

Wines Merely to Lust After

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

Peace but No Rest for Rust en Vrede


Kept Alone at Kaapzicht

Beau-tiful Beau-tique Beau-Constantia

Ghostly Clouds Swirl at Spookfontein

Wines That Don’t Cost The Earth

Onderkloof Beats All the Odds Below The Valley

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

Relaxing Rosendal

Very Cape Wines at Capaia

Neil’s Vines on the Tr-Ellis in Stellenbosch

Posh Spice in Franschhoek!

On Yonder Hill There Stands a Vineyard!

Waxing Lyrical about Canto

Wagons to the Cellar at Waboomsrivier

Cabsolutely Frankulous at the Carnival

Late at Lateganskop

From Palette to Palate to Muratie

Baby Thrown Out with the Bath Water?

Rain Meets Earth at Newton Johnson

At the Bend in the Road in Bot River

In the Garage in the Heart of McGregor

Saxenburg Puts Heart, Mind and Soul into Its Wines

Barrels of Fun at My First Stellenbosch Street Soirée

Lust-ful Reds in the Vineyard

Joy at Really Tasting the Difference at Esona

DeWaal Sits Atop the Pinotage Hill

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

Oh-MG at Anthonij Rupert

Water into Wine at Uitkyk

Old Oaks at La Bourgogne

Great Value in the Swartland

Individual Quality at Jordan

Pastures Anew at Rustenberg

Sax ‘n’ Berg at the Vineyard

Simonsig Excellence Today with a Traditional Legacy

Cheers! Or Beers?!

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

Englishman Meets Mrs English at Classic Lanzerac

Serenity without Worry or Preoccupation in the Chapel

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

Taking the Garage into the Classroom

Classy, Small and Precious Kleinood

Grape Fun – Stomping Well Worth the Journey!

Sylvan Vale Wines Good for a Meeting or an Eating

Mutual Attraction

Colmant Sparkled

Multi-Faceted Wines on Display at the Vineyard

A Kleine Experience at Zalze

Sweet and Safe Times Pair Well with the Whales

Grand Wines at the Big Top!

The Darling from Darling Steps into the Vineyard

Red Chair in the Morning

Com-fort-able Wines at Fort Simon

Villion Pairs with Barton in Bot Rivier

The Phoenix Rises from the Terroir at Thelema

Bellville to Bellevue to Belle Wines

Trading Wines in the City Bowl

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

Four Partners (not Cousins) at the Vineyard Hotel

Elegant Wines Kiss the Lips in the Vineyard

Rijk Tulbagh Gives Name to Cellar and Town

Blaauwklippen was Good for a Friday

Tasting Vines at the Vineyard

Sip Sip Sip and Drip Drip Drip at Domaine des Dieux

K-eynote W-ines at the V-ineyard

More than Just a Destination

Bramon Beside the (Plettenberg) Bay

Superb De Trafford Worthy of Being My 200th Wine Estate

Rivergold is a Gem Waiting to be Discovered

Wines Out of the Barrel at Kanonkop

No Black Marks at Raka

My Best Blend at Zandvliet

Bartinney Clings to the Mountain

Altitudes with Wine!

Quality with Style in the Vineyard

Groot Phesantekraal an Unexpected Surprise!

Exciting, Excellent Keermont

The Gods Come Home to the Vineyard

Wonderful Grapes at the Vineyard Hotel

Grape Expectations are Met at Zevenwacht

Quality Abounds on the Mound at La Motte

Superb Views of Guardian Peak

All is Not Lost in a Safe Port

Dreaming of a Wine Christmas

Hearty Food and Wine Brought by the Stork at Hartenberg

Maiden Visit to Lord’s Bowled Me Over

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

Wine on the Slopes at Chamonix

Golden Wines at the End of the Rainbow

Lithos Wines Soar above Mountain and Forest

More Still at Tanagra

Where the Lions Roar in the Wild West of Bot Rivier

An Early Start at Rietvallei

Sugar and Spice is Twice as Nice

Delaire Graff Wines Sparkle

From the Angel Gabriel to the Arch Angel

Wines to Love on Love Street

Leave a Reply

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