Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Bottling the 2017 vintage of the Vineyard Hotel's own wine

This was a very good year for grapes from the small vineyard at the Vineyard Hotel. The three rows of Semillon and the 5 rows of Chardonnay produced 244 kilos of grapes which have been turned into 168 litres of wine by this year's producer, Simonsig. Klein Constantia, Meerlust Wine Estate, Simonsig Wine Estate, Warwick Wine Estate and Waterford Wine Estate are the Vineyard Hotel’s five official wine partners, and each takes a turn to craft the wines. The grapes were first harvested in 2013 and this is the 5th year in which there have been enough grapes to produce wine. We were invited to join in and help as we are custodians of one of the vines, which grow on the bank of the Liesbeek River
Thursday dawned chilly and wet and we were very grateful that the Vineyard hotel had organised a shuttle to take us to Stellenbosch
The glamorous foyer of the hotel
We had a good coffee while the other media and trade assembled
Lots of tempting things to go with coffee should you visit
We piled into the shuttle for the hour long trip to Simonsig in Stellenbosch
On arrival at Simonsig, we headed for the wine cellar
Roy Davies, General Manager of the Vineyard Hotel, with Simonsig Cellarmaster Johan Malan swopping pictures on their phones. Simonsig is owned by the Malan Family Trusts
Simonsig's excellent range of Kaapse Vonkel MCC bubbles. The top wine in the range is called Cuvée Royale
We were welcomed by their marketing manager Jacques Jordaan with a glass of the Kaapse Vonkel
The corks are all good. Joaquim Sá of Amorim Cork knows
An introduction to Simonsig by Francois Jacques Malan
Winemaker Hannes Meyer setting up the small filling machine, we didn't need the big one
The wine was made in these glass carboys
First bottle on the line
Johan Malan gives us the facts from his Harvest journal
The wine is a Bordeaux-style white blend
Roy tells us about this year's harvest which was a very good one. There are 177 bottles and 12 Magnums of the blend this year, plus 33 of the Sauvignon Blanc
We all stood in line and took turns filling several bottles
Mike Ratcliffe of Warwick, another of the wine partners, with Ndaba Dube, Restaurant manager at The Vineyard sampling the wine. It is a really impressive blend this year, with the Semillon taking charge and making it full and elegant, with potential to last. We all were impressed at how well it had been made
It takes some strength to jam the bottles onto the filling nozzles
They were then taken by hand to the corking machine
Brothers and partners. Cellarmaster Johan Malan and viticulturalist Francois Malan
All that heavy work over, it is time for lunch in Simonsig's restaurant, Cuvée
With lunch, we tasted of all five vintages of the Vineyard blend, the first made by Matthew Day at Klein Constantia, the 2nd at Warwick by Norma Ratcliffe, 3rd at Meerlust by Chris Williams, the 4th at Waterford Estate by Mark Le Roux and this year was made at Simonsig by Hannes Meyer
and then three excellent bottles of Tiara Simonsig's red 5 way Bordeaux blend;
Tables around the room, occupied by regular customers as well as the bottling party
Good bread served with pickled spekboom, pink salt and flavoured butter
First course was a curried lentil soup topped with toasted coconut flakes
There were two choices of main course; this is the dark pork belly on herb mash topped with crackling, apple slices and a good rich wine jus
Or you could have a spicy coconut and chicken curry with a poppadum. Both were very good and paired very well with the wines. Then it was time for the shuttle back to the hotel. But we would be back the next day for a completely different event hosted by Simonsig

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