28 March 2008

With the Mombergs of Middlevlei Estate

Middlevlei Estate are on the outskirts of Stellenbosch at the entrance to Devon Valley. You drive along a pleasant street in a housing estate of spacious gardens and mature trees and at the end of the road is the entrance to the farm. A short brick road leads through vineyards to the winery and tasting room.

The estate is owned by the Momberg family. I had an appointment with Jeanerette Momberg who is responsible for marketing. Her husband Ben manages the vineyards, and Ben's brother Tinnie (pictured), is the winemaker.

The tasting room has a projecting roof, so we sat outside in the shade and admired the view of vines on the hillside. Jeanerette poured me a glass of Hagelsberg 2007. This is an export label and means ‘Hail Mountain’, which was the name originally bestowed by Simon van der Stel in a storm when he first the hill now planted with Middlevlei’s vines. The same wine is as Brick Road when exported to Germany and Netherlands.

Hagelsberg Pinotage 2007
This is an unoaked Pinotage aimed at export markets (but labelled as Brick Road in Germany and Netherlands). It has bright berry flavours, with soft dusty fruits, gentle tannins and noticeable acidity on the finish. 13%abv

Middlevlei Pinotage Merlot 2006
Middlevlei were the first to blend Pinotage with Merlot, and it proved very successful. I recall buying lots of if some years ago when it was stocked by Sainsbury’s in the UK but I have not seen it for some years now. The blend is 50/50 of the two varieties. “We have reduced wooding,” Jeanerette told me. This is as attractive as I remember, soft with bright fruits, gently acids and some dry tannins on the finish; very drinkable. 14%abv

Middlevlei Pinotage 2006
“This is doing really well abroad,” Jeanerette told me, “we are making it in a more modern style.” Given we were sitting outside, with farm animals in the next field, and maybe the wind changed direction, but I got a farmyard smell from this wine. The fruit seemed light and tasted mostly of prunes with some red berries. This wine didn’t excite me, it seemed dull. 14% (re-reading this, I am wondering if this wine was affected by low-level cork taint)

Middlevlei Pinotage 2000
Tinnie joined us, bringing this bottle from their cellar with him. The wind was getting up; and odd gust blew over some empty glasses. This eight year old wine smelled older than it tasted. On the palate it was soft red berries, ripe mulberry flavours and that haunting Pinotage sweetness. Lots of life left in this really enjoyable old wine.

Middlevlei Momberg 2004
This was the first vintage of Middlevlei’s new Cape Blend. It is a blend of 37% Pinotage, 29% Shiraz, 17% Merlot and 17% Cabernet Sauvignon, aged in all new wood then bottle aged for a further 18 months before release, and now all sold out. Much of it went to Austria and Germany where it was particularly popular, and no wonder since it is delightful. Its lively, with bright ripe red berry fruits a lick of sweetness wrapped in soft tannins. It is a summer pudding of a wine, delicious. 14%

Thanks to Jeanerette and Tinnie. I'll look out for the 2006 Pinno at the London International Wine Fair in May for a retaste.


  1. This sounds so Great, can everyone visit the Middlevlei Estate, It sounds beautiful. I also hear it has one of the largest forests of protected milkwood trees in South Africa


  2. Hi Holly, indeed Middlevlei welcomes visitors to come and taste, and if you are in the area then you should do so. Click on their name at the top of the article for their website .

    They are open open for wine tasting and sales from Monday to Saturday: 10h00 – 16h30.

    The wine tasting fee is R15-00 per person and together with friendly, personal service, a tasting portion of biltong, cheese and water biscuits is served with the tasting of 5 wines