“Why not come and visit us?” asks Jeremy Walker (Pictured far left with Peter May) - owner/winemaker of Grangehurst Winery when I meet him at a party. So I did.
The only previous time I went to Grangehurst, several years ago, the tasting room was closed. This time I couldn’t even find it. I popped into the R44 roadside produce/farm/wine shop that is Mooiberg intending to check directions. And browsing the wineshop, I was approached by a woman who recognised me. Embarrassingly, I couldn't recall where I knew her from but she reminded me she used to be in the Fairview tasting room. Now Marlies Naudé works for Charles Back’s distribution company and was offering tastes of MAN Vintners and the Goats do Roam ranges. The expected rush following the Argus Cycle race the previous day hadn’t materialised so we swapped stories and she got me directions back to Grangehurst.
It's up a dirt road and is only identified by the word Grangehurst painted vertically on a gate post. There had been a delivery lorry parked right in front of it earlier, I remembered, because I had to manoeuvre past it and didn't see the sign.
Jeremy was at the rear of the tasting room and poured some Grangehurst 2001 Pinotage from an open bottle. “There’s 11% Cabernet Sauvignon in it,” he told me. I found it had a sweet front, seemed quite light bodied for a wine with 14% abv and had noticeable acids on the finish.
“We have sold out of the 2000 vintage, and we can’t sell the 2001 because the wine labels aren’t printed yet – we’ve had delay after delay which is irritating because people want to buy it “
“These wines seem quite mature,” I said, “considering that other wineries have already released their 2006 Pinotages.”
“We like to bottle age our wines,” Jeremy replied. “Our style of wine is meant very much for accompanying food and we sell mostly to restaurants. They like to have wines with some age. After barrel ageing, our wines return to stainless steel tanks and they are racked many times, it is the natural way of cleaning wines – we don’t filter them. Only when we bottle the wines, they are gravity fed very gently to the bottling line and there is a filter there.”
“You must try this Kautzenburg 2004 (WO Stellenbosch 14.5%abv) that I made here for a neighbour” said Jeremy, opening another bottle. This Pinotage had a lavender perfumed nose, it was full bodied, with gravel spices and wild herb flavour. A most attractive wine that hit the target on all points of the palate.
Then Jeremy poured me some of his Cape Blend. Nikela 2001 is a blend of roughly equal Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinotage with a little Merlot (OK, I wrote down the percentages but I now find they add up to well over 100%. Sums never were my strong point...)
This Nikela is a well rounded wine with good body and fruit and fruit acids on the finish. “The acids help when you’re having it with food,” Jeremy said, “This isn’t meant for drinking on its own.”
Jeremy was intrigued to learn the last time I enjoyed Nikela was at the Pinotage Dinner in September 2006 in Toronto, organised by the local South African Wine Society. Then it was the 2000 vintage which I noted ‘51% Cabernet Sauvignon, 38% Pinotage and 11% Merlot, matured for 21 months in French and American oak barrels. Good structure with ripe berry flavours and a hint of sweetness and some grippy tannins. A very pleasant wine, good drinking now but will keep.’
I remarked on the corks Jeremy was using because they looked like composites (picture right). “They are DIAM technical corks,” Jeremy told me. “Several other winemakers have recommended them to me and I am trialling them. We’ve bottled 3- 400 wines with them and we’ll use these bottles in our tasting room and at shows so we can closely monitor them. They are supposed to be TCA free. You can tell they are DIAM because of the ‘D’ stamped on them.”
That night I opened the bottle of Grangehurst 2001 Pinotage that Jeremy had kindly given me. And you know what? He’s right – it is a super food wine! The acids I had remarked on in the tasting room were not noticeable. This wine was full bodied, ripe and silky in texture. There were coffee tones on the palate – and now on the nose as well.
Another stunning wine.