Therese is the head winemaker at Doolhof Estate, a new winery in Wellington. "We're in a valley between two mountains," she told me. "Our vineyards are planted at different heights and aspects -- they're very different. That is our signature."
The 2005 Signatures of Doolhof Pinotage was very dark with a red rim. It had the most attractive sweet upfront fruit followed by a depth of red berry flavours and some intriguing coffee tones. Therese said the wine had been aged almost a year in 80% French/10% American oak barrels of which 70% were new.
Doolhof means labyrinth, and wine grapes were first planted in the valley in 1728 until devastated by phylloxera in the 1890’s. One hundred years later in 1995, Doonhof Estate planted their first vineyards to Bordeaux varieties, plus Shiraz, Chardonnay and Pinotage.
Previously the farm sold its grapes to other wineries, but they wanted to make their own wines and this 2005 Pinotage is one of their first offerings. Now they have built their own facilities on the farm and registered as an Estate in 2005.
Although a name new to me, Doolhof have already enjoyed success in international competitions, including a Gold at the 2007 Michelangelo International Wine Awards for the 2005 Signatures Pinotage and a Double Gold at Veritas 2006 for the 2006 Signatures Sauvignon Blanc.
Therese Swart took up her position as Head Winemaker & Director of Wine at Doolhof in 2004. Previously she was making wine for Groot Constantia Estate which she joined after studying wine making at The University of Stellenbosch.
Doolhof Estate's owner Dennis J Kerrison told me “Since the commissioning of our winery we plan to focus on elegant, fruity Pinotage expressing the Doolhof terroir. However, we do feel the richness of our fruit does give us options in type of Pinotage wine we can produce.”
I was really impressed with my first taste of Doolhof’s wine and look forward to enjoying a bottle with dinner. This is a winery of which we will be hearing a lot more, and one I intend visiting in February when I am next in the Cape.