De Grendel – Wine from Cape of Good Hope

by Anlé Britz

I had the distinct privilege to visit Charles, the Cellar Master of De Grendel wines since 2005 at his office. He calls the humble space where the art of science balance his passion – home. What a pleasure to be taken through the winemaking process by the master himself. I chose my own bunches, weighed them and pressed them with my own hands – measured the sugar and pH levels. Yes, I drank some of the grape juice – it was the beginning of a potential Shiraz in the making.

This was followed by a private cellar tour where I learnt about their amphora and concrete egg experiments – all the while rubbing my hands in excitement for the finished product. Charles is an educator at heart shares his knowledge, passion and achievements with others. I could not pass the opportunity to create a world class wine tasting and enjoy the finished products.

The History

Dating back to 1720, the De Grendel farm land owner was Claas Meyboom, a passionate business man. The De Grendel land, along with Plattekoof was sold in 1812 but within 20 years of the sale Daniel van Reenen received the title deed under the British land system and the farm expanded to 311.4 hectares. To give you an idea this prime property reached Bloubergstrand on the coast to Woodstock at the base of Table Mountain!

The De Graaffs’ occupy the history of the farm with careers in carpentry, butchery, livestock breeding, soldiering, professional sporting and held their ground on the political fields which included an ongoing ten-generation baronet title.

I cannot help but link the passion threading though these generations of epic love stories, future-dreaming and strategic investments which paid off in spades. It was only in 2000 that the vines that serve the De Grendel were planted and Charles Hopkins nurtured the wines from their first harvest in 2003.

The Tasting Venue and Service

The view from the De Grendel tasting venue captures the beauty of the Cape of Good Hope in one frame spectacularly. The stoep lounge is decorated with a balance of elegant Victorian chequered floors and relaxed and comfortable furniture. Here you do not have to think – you can just take it all in. Mickyl was an absolute joy – he came with stories and tales about the De Grendel legacy:

  • The second Graaff of South Africa, Johannes is the carpenter who crafted the impressive wooden pulpit resting on two lions following a design by the sculptor Anton Anreith standing tall in the heart of the Groote Kerk in Cape Town?
  • Did you know that the Graaff family shared in the installation and still owns 40% of the Table Mountain cable car?
  • There are 6 generations ahead of the De Graaff family that technically carry the baronet title awarded by the King George V in 1911.

We ordered the Mixed platter curated to accompany our Flagship wine tasting selection.

The Wine

Cap Classique Brut – She is light, bright and poised, she dances on your tongue with layers of citrus flavours and a lingering biscuity finish best enjoyed overlooking the vineyards and not-too-far horses playing in the field.

Koetshuis Sauvignon Blanc – named after the coach House that was built on the Tygerberg hill to host the prized Arab horses of Dawie Graaff in 1891, the Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon blend is significant in its well-balanced acidity and fruit forward flavours now, but sure to keep your mouth watering for a couple more years to come.

Op Die Berg Chardonnay – Expressing the entirely unique terroir from the vineyards up in the Witzenberg Mountain range in Ceres, this wine is soft, complex and distinctive in her citrus aromas and flavour.

Op Die Berg Pinot Noir – Growing and nurturing their very own Heartbreak Grape also from the Witzenberg vineyards, this Pinot Noir deserves all its awards for the exceptional delivery of a well understood and celebrated terroir. The wine is bright, sensual mouthfeel, sings of red berries and silky tannins.

Amandelboord Pinotage – made and named to honour treasured memories of Sir De Villiers Graaff’s grandfather, Sir De Villiers Graaff, the 2nd Baronet who used to take young De Villiers horse-riding though the Almond orchard on the farm. The wine is rich and fruit forward with a beautiful balance of savoury flavours.

Rubaiyat – Be still my beating heart, the flagship and pride of our Cellar Master inspired by the challenge to master an iconic wine, a blend of 4 Bordeaux style wines in the bottle is celebrated on the label by one of the Rubaiyat quatrain poem from Omar Khayyam’s exquisite collection of love poems from the 10th century. The blend is complex in spiced character and the tannins velvety soft.

Bringing this experience to a close, I will leave you with a quote from Charles: “Quality is not a goal, it’s a journey.”

Stay tuned for more bespoke wine experiences with Artroute.

A toast,