It is no secret that I view Charles Hopkins, cellarmaster at De Grendel Wines, as one of my biggest mentors in the wine industry. Apart from allowing me to spend several days in the cellar with him over harvest, he is always very accommodating to take guests on a private tour around the estate. He’s made himself available for presentations and courses to educate and develop those within the industry and those who purely enjoy sipping the fruit of the vine. Add to this the fact that De Grendel is the closest wine estate to my home – pretty much a no-brainer where we spend our time with family and friends showing off our neck of the woods.
Like so many memorable stories about the origin of great wines and farms, the Graaff family tell a historical tale steeped in heritage. This Durbanville farm has been in the Graaff family for three generations. Originally used for the breeding of Arab horses, the Graaffs also breed award-winning cattle and sheep. De Grendel is synonymous with quality and their farm is now home to Holstein stud cattle, sheep, grain and vines.
The cellar’s open plan tasting room spills onto the veranda where you can experience their wines against the picture-perfect backdrop of Table Mountain.
A glass-walled kitchen with wrap-around views is the domain of the dashing hunter-gatherer chef Ian Bergh, supported by his spirited kitchen brigade. Forming a powerhouse team with restaurateur Jonathan Davies, co-founder of De Grendel Restaurant, they’ve built up a solid reputation for seriously good food since opening in May 2012.
After nine vintages, their state-of-the-art cellar is currently undergoing some additions to increase the capacity for their range of 16 wines from 600 to 700 tons (50 000 cases).
My most recent visit to the farm was for the launch of their Op Die Berg Chardonnay. I know there are many others as upset as I was to learn that De Grendel has discontinued their Winifred white blend. But our consolation is that they are now making single variety Viognier and Chardonnay instead. The Chardonnay grapes are sourced from a Graaff family farm in the Witzenberg Mountain in Ceres situated 960m in altitude. They’ve even managed to get a Wine of Origin status demarcated for this newly declared appellation. 60% of the wine is barrel fermented with a percentage of that inoculated for malolactic fermentation.
Having held back in bottle for a while before releasing their 2013, it is one to go in search of! Beautiful citrus, grapefruit and well supported by oak on the nose. I thought the palate had a crisp, restrained, even unassuming entry which developed into layered citrus and stone fruit with a spicy oak finish. Given the unique situation and youthfulness of the vines I look forward to seeing how the wine develops over a few years.
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Where 112 Plattekloof Road, Panorama
When Open for tastings and sales Monday to Friday from 9 am – 5 pm and on weekends from 10 am – 4 pm
Contact +27 21 558 6280, [email protected], www.degrendel.co.za
Karen Glanfield is host of the very successful ‘Unwined’ wine appreciation courses, a Wine Specialist Tour Guide and is involved in many other vinous activities.