Friday, October 29, 2021

Celebrating the 60th Anniversary of Lanzerac Pinotage

What a way to break a long fast. We were among the 50 individuals who were sent an invitation to be part of the story of South African Pinotage and to celebrate its 60th anniversary. We have been in a very long drought as far as stories to cover are concerned and this was a very good way to get back into the flow. Covid has changed things so much in the industry. The invitation read: "Let’s celebrate the 60th Anniversary of a courageous beginning. A collaboration between two historic estates, which led to the establishment of an enduring South African icon. Lanzerac and Bellevue Estates are celebrating and want you to join us."

Pinotage has a long and very interesting history and Lanzerac and Bellevue have published a very well written story on line for you to read. Just click on the link:

We also really liked the story written by Trudi Webb of

The Lanzerac manor house, viewed from the gate

We were told that unless we dressed in the style of the 1950s we would not be admitted, so we went as 1950s teens in denim and T shirts; John even Brylcreemed his hair and Lynne sported a ponytail, we remember it well having been teenagers in the 50s. We met on the lawn outside the Cellar Hall for a glass of Cap Classique and some canapés

The programme for the day

Our favourite style of bubbles has always been a Blanc de Blanc (100% Chardonnay) nice and crisp and dry
 This is a good expression of the style

Canapés of Duck Pâté between two crisp layers of truffled melba toast with a cognac jelly were much enjoyed

As were these tiny crisp flaky pastry vol au vents of smoked salmon

There were also Oysters on the Rocks

Neethlingshof cellarmaster De Wet Viljoen and publicist Emile Joubert

Christian Eedes of Winemag and Andre Morgenthal of the Old Vines Project

Before we went into the lecture theatre we had a choice of caramel popcorn or candyfloss

Nicely socially distanced,.. we were able to really catch up with other media and wine industry folk whom we have not seen for, literally, years (well, one and a half). Then it was time to watch the informative film that had been specially made about the creation and history of Pinotage

The year 1925 saw Professor Abraham Izak Perold, the first Professor of Viticulture at the University of Stellenbosch, successfully cross two grape varietals, Pinot Noir and Hermitage (Cinsault), to create South Africa’s first unique and indigenous wine grape variety – Pinotage. Just a few vines were cultivated and, in the 1950s, some were found and planted out on De Waal (1950), Bellevue (1953) and Kanonkop (1953) estates

Several years later, Stellenbosch Farmers Winery became the first winery in the world to use the term ‘Pinotage’ on their label when they marketed the 1959 vintage, produced under the name ‘Lanzerac’ The wine was made at Bellevue in the Bottelary ward from the grapes in their vineyard. The wine is believed to have come from the tank that won the General Smuts Trophy for Bellevue earlier that year at the S.A. Young Wine Show, although SFW's blending notes show that some of the 1960 vintage was blended into the wine. This visionary release marked the birth of Pinotage as a unique variety from South Africa

Today, Bellevue and Lanzerac wine estates, under the leadership of Bellevue's Dirkie Morkel and Lanzerac Cellar Master, Wynand Lategan (seen here with Bellevue owner Marinus Neethling) and Farm Manager Danie Malherbe, produce award-winning Pinotage, along with a wide variety of other excellent quality wines that form part of Lanzerac’s three tiers – the Premium Range, Heritage Range and Keldermeester Versameling (Cellar Master Collection)

The collaboration between the farms still growing the original pinotage grapes has been taking place since 2017
and the wine is being made at Lanzerac

Bellevue co-owner Dirkie Morkel, seated in the original vineyard, where the grapes planted in 1953 are still growing in the original vineyard. These grapes are now being used to produce the wine they were about to launch and we were to taste. The pinotage block on Bellevue is 2.5 hectares and produces only 3 tons a hectare each year. We are fortunate enough to have made two barrels of Pinotage from this vineyard in the Bellevue cellar in 2002

Kanonkop co-owner Johann Krige, who has helped with the development of this new grape variety and produced top class wines introduced to our local market and the rest of the world. Kanonkop’s Black Label Pinotage is made from their 1953 vineyard

DeWaal owner Pieter de Waal told us how the first vines were planted on his farm in 1950 and how they are still producing good grapes

They were planted on Kanonkop in 1953

The "King" of Pinotage, Beyers Truter is renowned for producing superb Pinotage

Bellevue Pinotage was earning awards in the 1960s at the Cape Wine Show in Goodwood Showgrounds

Then it was time to taste the result of five years of making the historic blend

Suzanne Coetzee of Nuiba Brands introduced the presentation

Dirkie Morkel spoke about Bellevue's involvement 

Wynand Grobler, Lanzerac winemaker, took us through the rather rapid tasting of the wines

The tasting 'menu'

The first wine was the Lanzerac Keldermeester Versameling (cellarmaster Selection) Prof 2017 which is a Pinot Noir and Cinsault blend made to see if it resembled Pinotage. Rather vapid on the nose, with cranberry, mulberry and plum. On the palate, sharp fruit on the tongue with rather unripe plums and mulberry. Good bones and nice wooding

Second came the Bellevue 2017 Reserve Pinotage. This wine is not made from the original block of pinotage, but from younger blocks on the farm. Dark purple in colour, plum and prune fruit on the nose and silky palate with zingy fruit, and licorice wood on the end

The third wine was the Lanzerac 2018 Pionier Pinotage from the Jonkershoek valley. Seductive and pretty on the nose, with rose, cherry and incense wood. A wow on the palate. Heady aromas and flavours of cherry and berries as you taste, chalky tannins; worth cellaring

The Commemorative Pinotage Experimental Barrel 2017 was next (they actually made three barrels). Vanilla and almond on the nose with prunes and cassis. A lovely soft mouthfeel, some zings of fruit acidity with good wood on the end
The Commemorative Pinotage Experimental Barrel 2018 has an approachable, dive-in nose, with the Pinot Noir parent playing its part here. Cherries and berries, incense wood, elegance and restraint. Long deep flavours on the palate of cherries, cassis and chalky tannins

Beyers Truter tasting the wines

And then (Drum roll) the Commemorative Pinotage Maiden Vintage 2019 is presented to by us Lanzerac's talented winemaker Wynand Grobler. “Stories sell wine” says Wynand. This is the first commercial release of the project. They have replicated the original label from the first Lanzerac Pinotage at great effort and expense. The original font is no longer available and had to be recreated. The wine, which is a very limited release, will retail for R1950 per bottle from the farm

Suzanne Coetzee pours the new commemorative Lanzerac Pinotage

It spent 16 months in oak. One barrel in French first fill, the rest in second fill or older. Deep burgundy in colour with incense wood, hints of violet and rose perfumes and complex cherry fruit. It is young, so the tight tannins do bite a little, but they indicate that it will last well. Lovely cherry and red and black berry fruit, with blue plums; the wine had length and structure. To put away and wait awhile for Pinotage to do its magic

“Cheers to Pinotage” says Beyers Truter

Christine Rudman, who was Principal of the Cape Wine Academy when we studied for our diplomas in the mid 90s

The team involved:
Mr & Mrs Marinus Neethling, Wynand Grobler, Dirkie Morkel, Beyers Truter, Maryna Calow and De Wet Viljoen

Time to head to the dining room for lunch

Maryna Calow of Wines of South Africa, very suitably and beautifully dressed in 1950s style

The full compendium of Bellevue and Lanzerac Pinotages

The lunch menu

This elegant room has a history. When we first knew it, in the 1960s, it was a most elegant lounge, decorated with very valuable and beautiful art works and antique furniture. Sadly, in May 2017, a devastating fire consumed most of the building and everything was lost. The walls have been left unplastered, exposing the brickwork, which dates back to the 1770s. The hotel’s owners decided to showcase these ‘battle scars’, along with the charred remains of previous fires, as well as the most recent one, so that the estate’s stories can be physically relayed, not covered up again and forgotten

Two of the Lanzerac wines we tasted while waiting for lunch to be served. They have both scored highly in competition. The Mrs English is a single vineyard Chardonnay, full of flavours of crisp citrus and just the wine we needed after such a concentrated red wine morning. We also enjoyed the Bergstroom Sauvignon Semillon blend, rich and full of kiwi and gooseberry flavours

And the wine we enjoyed the most with our lunch was the Bellevue 2017 Pinotage 1953 which is drinking so well now. A classic, well made Bottelary Pinotage, full of dark fruit in layers, with soft silky tannins and long complex flavours of cherry and plums. So easy to drink and perfect with the meal

Tanya Powell and Karien Basson joined us at our table

In keeping with the 1950s era, talented Lanzerac Chef Stephen Fraser had produced a classic Beef Wellington of tender fillet wrapped in crisp pastry, accompanied with cauliflower cheese, butter roast potatoes, carrots, bone marrow on top of the Wellington and onion gravy. So delicious

Dessert was another 1950's classic; Lemon Chiffon Cake topped with macarons, marinated berries, lemon curd and vanilla ice cream. Lynne is not a fan of cake but, if they were all as good and fairy light as this, she would be very happy and perhaps much plumper. It certainly needs reviving as a modern classic

If you do not wish to receive e-mails from us, please email

Thursday, October 28, 2021

Lunch and tasting at Glen Carlou

Invitations to visit wine farms have rightly been few and far between because of Covid, but we do hope things will improve, now that many people have been vaccinated and farms have learned to put the necessary protocols in place to protect their staff and visitors 

We were very happy to accept an invitation to visit Glen Carlou wine estate to taste their wines and enjoy a lovely lunch on the terrace last Sunday. The farm is situated in Klapmuts, on the Simondium Road, and has superb views over the valley to Agter Paarl. The winemaker is Johnny Canitz and the chef is Johan Stander

It’s a modern building, so well designed, with its large tasting room and restaurant and it also has an art gallery

Looking down over the vineyards towards the Agter Paarl area, everything is so lush and green at this time of the year

The terrace is well shaded by the large canopy and it was a very special place to have lunch
It is a popular place to eat; you do need to book a table, especially if you want to sit on the terrace

The thatch roofed interior makes it cool in summer and a lovely place to enjoy lunch in the winter with the open fire

and there are some relaxing spaces in which to taste wine

Our table was booked for 12.30 and the trip through was very quick, so we were rather early
We have to mention the superb service and kind attention we had from the staff who looked after us:
Manager Bronwin Adams, and his staff members Lizette Fortuin and Linda Solomons
They were all so attentive and accommodating to our needs

A glass floor view of the barrel cellar below; beware those who suffer from vertigo

The Taal monument in Paarl, which commemorates the Afrikaans language, on the hill across the valley

You can also look down towards the Paarl valley and the mountains beyond

We decided to do our tasting at the table rather than in the tasting room; first wine to taste was the Glen Carlou Cap Classique, a Zero dosage Blanc de Blanc Chardonnay. It is biscuity, with green and cooked apple on the nose with a little ginger spice. It has a fine mousse and some delicacy, with lots of long flavours of crisp apple and greengage plum. Minerality with a hint of salty licorice on the end. A fine example, very enjoyable. And a great start to our lunch

The 2020 Unwooded Chardonnay is made in concrete eggs and has quite a hint of orange and lees on the nose
Cooked apple, rich pastry and caramel on the palate make this the perfect wine to serve with a Tart Tatin! Very quaffable

The 2020 Chardonnay. A quarter of the wine was matured in each of 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th fill French barrels
The grapes are from the Simonsberg. Bready and yeasty with a hint of perfume,
which follows through on the palate with cooked apple and dark toast on the layered end

The 2020 Petite Classique is a 60% Malbec, 40% Merlot blend with cherries and cherry pips, a hint of herbs and good richness on the nose. On the palate, black and Morello cherries, some dark licorice wood and then the fruit continues with intense mulberries. Very drinkable

We then voted to continue the tasting with our lunch. While we generally chose the wines suggested on the menu to pair with each of our courses, we did both taste all the wines. Sadly, the wine we really wanted to taste, because we had tasted a very good one at Kranskop on our visit to Robertson, was the unusual Tannat 2018, which is now sold out

This is the menu, which suggests pairings with each course
In two cases, the pairing was ignored and a different wine was picked

A surprise Amuse Bouche from the kitchen was something we love and have missed
A tiny warm, deep fried truffle & cheese croquette served with aioli made from egg yolk, honey, mustard & wine vinegar
It came with a soft warm roll and some butter

As her starter, Lynne chose the battered squid with slow roasted aubergine and yellow peppers
Good flavours on the squid and the yellow peppers, but we like our aubergine cooked a lot longer; this was still rather raw

The pairing she chose was the 2019 Collection Chenin Blanc. It was a good choice with its classic Chenin nose of dust and tropical fruits and loquats, Yellow stone fruit on the crisp and golden palate. The wood shows quite strongly on the end so, possibly, this needs more time in the bottle

John chose the lamb croquettes on a beetroot chutney, with pickled pear. The croquettes were almost all lamb and, perhaps, needed a bit more white sauce to moisten the meat. John is NOT a fan of beetroot but surprised Lynne by saying how well it worked as a counterpoint to the richness of the lamb 

He chose the 2020 Pinot Noir as his pairing. It is quite shy and sophisticated at first, then the classic red berry fruit appears. Soft and silky on the palate then red, maraschino and morello cherry appear. Dark wood, mulberries and pepper complete the wine. Young, but well made

In between courses, we asked to taste the 2019 Syrah. Dark red and black berry fruit, spicy on the concentrated nose
The densely fruity and warm palate follows through with cassis and mulberry. It’s young and needs a little more time

Her main course choice was the rolled Lamb shoulder with a Vadouvan Masala lightly curried sauce, fruited and spiced couscous and spring onions. Very tender, very rich; it needed the excellent Cabernet Franc to cut through the richness

Very enjoyable

Lynne paired the 2018 Collection Cabernet Franc, one of her favourite grapes, with the lamb course
Classic savouriness on the nose, lovely berries, a hint of green leaves, with richness and complexity
Licorice, dark berries, layers of complexity, long, dark, deep flavours and an excellent mouthfeel. SO well made

John’s main course choice was the 400g Sirloin on the bone, served with rustic fries, pepper, and thyme cream
It was perfectly cooked to his specification of medium rare

His pairing was the 2018 Grand Classique Bordeaux blend, and it is a very special wine. Incense wood, very true to the Bordeaux style, with beautiful fruit in layers, a good kick of acidity and chalky tannins to aid its aging and long complex flavours with wood holding its own on the end. A wine to drink now and also to keep. A very good pairing, as expected 

A good double espresso completed the excellent meal for John

We were very impressed with the wines, the food and the service

Do go and experience it for yourselves.

If you do not wish to receive e-mails from us, please email