Wednesday, November 07, 2018

Visits to Robertson wine estates: Springfield, Paul René, Lord's, Mont Blois

We began our third day in Robertson at Springfield, where we tasted some of the new vintages in the tasting room, specifically the Life from Stone and Special Cuvée Sauvignons Blanc, and could not resist buying six of each. These wonderful wines are distinctly different from each other, change during the year and vie for first position
Abrie Bruwer's daughter Jenna gave us an informative cellar tour of their large production facility. (If you are not a Bruwer or a de Wet in Robertson, you are probably related to them). They put insulating jackets on their cooling tanks.
Here she is explaining how they make the white wines
Underneath this floor are the old Kuipe or concrete tanks, which are still used. They were being cleaned by this worker and have to be accessed via those steel capped holes in the floor, not a popular job
More gleaming tanks in the spotless winery
and more above us
A wall of bottles, and each one can be removed without disturbing the others, should you want to
A solid wall of bottles
and more
In the red wine barrel cellar
The bottling line is impressive and was working that day
It is large but, apparently, is about to be replaced by an even larger and faster one which will bottle under nitrogen for increased stability and longevity
Storage bins
And the newly expanded deck alongside the tasting room
Jenna's new puppy, a Vizsla, has a lovely nature and is very inquisitive
A lovely place to enjoy wine on a sunny day
The Springfield Life from Stone Sauvignon Blanc. We also tasted something new, an Alvarinho 2018, This wine was first tasted in Uruguay by Abrie and his sister Jeanette and they fell in love with the grape. The nose is tropical and quite 'foreign' with a lovely muscat perfume. Peach and nectarine with limes on the palate, juicy and young with long lime flavours at the end. A lovely summery drink, that will pair well with food. More farms are planting it so soon it won’t be so foreign. It is a dryland grape that we had several times in Portugal. Newton Johnson also has one
Then on to our next farm, Paul René on Wonderfontein where they produce two MCCs, a Brut and a Brut Rosé, made by Henk van Niekerk
The old Georgian house, which was an orphanage at one stage
Inside the tasting room, a chandelier of bubbles
The original distillers licence, granted to the farm in 1885
The wines
And a working petrol bowser; every wine farm should have one
Henk with his son, Paul René, after whom the MCC wines are named. Henk and his wife Monica moved to Wonderfontein in 2008 and conceived the wine as a labour of love. Their first release was in 2013. Monica is responsible for the branding
We began with the Brut 2015, a Blanc de Blanc made from 100% Chardonnay from the Langeberg which has spent a minimum of 24 months on the lees. Bready and yeasty on the nose with hints of honey and lime. A lovely prickle on the palate with crisp lemon and grapefruit, refreshing with good minerality. We like this very much
A kiss from wife Monica
She is a talented designer and illustrator and is the brains behind the beautiful packaging and design
Next we tasted the Rosé, which is very pale, almost a partridge eye colour. 75% Pinot Noir and 25% Chardonnay. On the nose, raspberry Pinot fruit with bready yeast, a nice prickle with soft strawberry and rosé flavours, it has complexity and some sweetness. Grown on ripped shale
The vineyards at Wonderfontein
Their house
Next we were off up the McGregor valley, right to the top to Lords Winery, where the weather was anything but clement. We had to run from the car to the winery as the wind and rain were horizontal and it was cold. This is the large tasting room which is also a conference or wedding venue. The clever bar can be moved and even separated into two parts to make separate bars
We tasted the Lords MCC Brut with its many gongs. Made from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Bready on the nose, it spends 13 months on the lees and is bready and crisp on the palate. We also tasted the three Barrels Shiraz 2012. Pale in colour, with smoke and juicy fruit on the nose, lots of crisp fruit on the palate, lactic and warm alcohols
Their current range of wines. The Sauvignon blanc is unwooded, and full of granadilla and tropical flavours, crisp fruit acidity with grapefruit. The Rosé, made from 100% Pinot Noir has rose petals and raspberry fruit. Strawberry and raspberry on the palate with good acidity and some lactic flavours. The Pinot Noir has coffee choc vanilla with green leaves on the nose, tart fruit acids on the palate. It needs time, with dark wood on the end. Just released is the 2016 Shiraz, smoky and spicy with fruit cordial notes on the nose, good fruit, but thin with long flavours and very grippy chalky tannins
We were presented with a platter for lunch with some biltong, local cheeses, ham, a liver paté, some humus and some tiny cheese quiches, which certainly helped after all the wine and filled us up nicely. Thank you Lords, GM Louwrens Rademeyer and Benita Gouws for the informative tasting and nice lunch
The line up of their wines
And then back to Robertson and into the countryside behind the town to Mont Blois and their vineyards, for our appointment with Ernst and Nina-Mari Bruwer. They met at while studying Viticulture & Oenology at Stellenbosch University and Nina-Mari joined them in 2008. She and Ernst are married. And Nina-Mari is a Cape Wine Master

Their Cape Dutch house. The family’s first wine farm in Robertson was bought in 1846 and the Mont Blois Wynlandgoed cellar was built in 1884. Sweet muscadel wines were farmed in those days. Six generations later, owner Ernst Bruwer now manages three farms in Robertson: Mont Blois, La Fontaine and Sunshine. Mont Blois is named after the picturesque town of Blois in the Loire in which the Bruwer antecedents originated. They are both passionate about making site specific quality wines; they believe in sustainable farming and that older vineyards should be cared for
The wines we tasted. The 2016 Kweekkamp Chardonnay (4.5 stars in Platter 2019) is grown in a single vineyard on limestone soil. There is apple, honey and richness on the nose and clean palate, with full flavours of more green apples and limes, minerality and some chalk. The 2016 Hoog en Laag Chardonnay (4 stars in Platter 2019) is grown on red clay soils, 500 meters from the Kweekkamp and is different. It has perfume, fennel, nutmeg and nuts on the nose; on the palate, sweet oak vanillins with fruit and limes, good minerality and richness on the end with hints of spice. Two delicious and different Chardonnays, both well balanced and lightly oaked. The 2016 Groot Steen Chenin Blanc (4.5 stars in Platter 2019) comes from 32 year old vines on the banks of the Breede River. Spicy and perfumed on the nose, then honey richness and fullness on the palate, warm alcohols, lime marmalade acidity to balance, clean and full of minerality
We tasted their 2018 Grenache Blanc (4 stars in Platter 2019), recently released, with cooked apple and white grape notes on the nose; good minerality, stone fruit, plums, pear, nice warmth and texture on the palate, it has long flavours and is unfamiliar but very enjoyable. Normally found as a component in Rhône blends, it is being adopted by some good wine farms, so we expect to see more. Then two red wines: The 2016 Bacchus, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot, has cassis and violets on the pretty nose and pure fruit - layers of berries and cherries, warm alcohol, and nice wooding which hints on the end palate. The Estate 2016 Pinotage is called Tarentaalsdraai. Chocolate and cherries on the very pretty nose, soft sweet fruit in layers, nice chalk and lots of cherries - black and red. Some complexity and definite aging potential
They still have stock of their Superior 1984 Estate Muscadel
The line up of the wines we tasted
Nina-Mari with a Coravin, an interesting pouring device that pours a measured dose and tops the bottle up with argon gas, so that it does not oxidise
Chatting about wine with Ernst and Nina-Mari while we taste. They are a charming couple
Then a taste of the two Estate muscadels The 2016 Pomphuis from across the river, a warmer farm, 260 gm/l sugar. With honey, herbs and dry grass on the nose, full of thick honey and limes, so well balanced. The Harpie 2016 has some Noble Late Harvest. It has honey, apricots and dried peaches on the nose, with wonderful warm, sweet fruit and honey on the palate. Two treasures. Both get 4.5 stars in the 2019 Platter
Long shadows began to stretch across the lawn as we said thank you and goodbye and headed back to Cape Town at about 4.30. We got home at 7.30, because there was a very nasty crash on the R60 near Nuy. A farm with really good wines, well worth visiting and buying

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