17 April 2007

Lunch, Pinotages
- and More at Neethlingshof Estate
Bringing Grapes to Neetlingshof
I am lazy; I don’t like to work but I quite like watching others doing so, thus lunch at Neethlingshof Estate was particularly enjoyable. Not only were a team of gardeners being industrious in the flowerbeds but every now and again a tractor towing a grape hopper passed the restaurant veranda under me (see picture right to be unloaded into the de-stemmer almost opposite.

On one side of the courtyard is the old manor house with the Lord Neethling restaurant (see picture below left) and facing it on the other side is the winery building and tasting room. And every now again during harvest visitors and tour groups are scattered by the need to tractor in freshly gathered grapes. The restaurant serves a good Escalope of Veal Milanese – a dish to which I am very partial and which just suited a bottle of Neethlingshof 2002 Pinotage (95 rand). Lord Neethling RestaurantI found this wine a little too tannic at first; it definitely needed food, though as time went on it opened up delivering some bright berry flavours.

I’d met Neethlingshof’s winemaker, De Wet Viljoen at a party a few days and when I said I was coming for lunch he insisted I ask for him when I arrived which I did, only to be told that no one of that name worked there. “But he is your winemaker!” I exclaimed. It was then I had some help on my slow and stumbling path to speaking Afrikaans and learned to say D’Vet Vill –Yo – en.

De Wet is one of the nicest people in the business and a good friend of Pinotage, and he offered to organise a tasting of Pinotage from the Cape Legends portfolio. Cape Legends markets fourteen brands from eleven wineries. Each winery operates as a separate company, some are part owned by Cape Legends' owner Distell, some are privately owned with only Plaisir de Merle being completely owned.

The Tasting

De Wet and Carlen Groenewald (Cape Legends European Business Manager) had lined up the following six wines:

Distell Pinotage Tasting
Hill & Dale 2005 WO Stellenbosch

Soft ripe plum and berry fruits, immediately appealing, some very soft tannins and a tangy finish.

Hill & Dale (Hillandale was the name of a real farm) is made by Stellenzicht’s winemaker Guy Webber using fruit that didn’t end up in Neethlingshof and Stellenzicht.

Jacobsdal 2004 Estate WO Stellenbosch 14.5%abv

Good deep colour, firm bodied black cherry flavours, drying finish.

I noticed the label had a new logo on it saying ‘Naturally Fermented’. “Yes, they use only natural yeast fermentation at Jacobsdal” said Carlen. “It is a winery I have always wanted to visit”, I said, “but they are not open to the public.”

“I’ll see what I can do,” replied Carlen. And she did – but that is another story.

Neethlingshof 2002 Estate WO Stellenbosch 15%abv

This wine was fuller bodied and rounder with more fruit flavours than the one I had with lunch at the Neethlingshof restaurant. “It is cooler and has been open longer” explained DeWet. But it still dried the mouth with some firm tannins on the finish. Definitely needs food.

Stellenzicht Golden Triangle 2005 14.5%abv

Deep garnet colour, silky and spicy front palate with some wood underneath. Umm, this is quite complex; a moreish wine.

Tukulu 2004 WO Darling

Bright dark red colour, purple rim, looks quite young. Very sweet upfront strawberry and cherry flavours. Mouth filling, great structure and balanced tannins with a medium finish.
De Wet Viljoen

Neethlingshof Lord Neethling 2001 ‘Limited Release’ Estate WO Stellenbosch 14.5%abv

Bright dark red colour, wooded nose, there’s berry fruits and a sweet feel but a firm middle and a wooded finish.

Thanks to De Wet (pictured right) I was also able to taste, prior to release.

Neethlingshof Lord Neethling 2005 ‘Limited Release’ Estate WO Stellenbosch

Wow, wonderful deep fruit flavours and soft soft tannins, great depth and complexity, this is a super wine that just begs to be drunk.

Many thanks to Carlen and De Wet.

No comments:

Post a Comment