May 4, 2009

Brief Notes from a Tasting: Vergelegen, South Africa

By Andrew Barrow In Tasting Reports, Wine Notes

the gardens at Vergelegen, South Africa

A 300 year history permeates Vergelegen; one of South Africa’s most prestigious, reknown and visited wineries in the Cape. The original homestead was built in 1700; originally a barren wilderness it was transformed into a vibrant farm with fruit orchards, orange groves, oak trees, vines, cattle and sheep. Passing through a succession of owners the estate was eventually purchased by Anglo American Farms in 1987. The last 21 years have seen a renaissance.

It is a wonderful spot for visitors; even if you have only a passing interest in wine – there’s the oldest oak tree in Africa (a hollow Old English Oak believed to be 300 years old) and gardens aplenty (rose, herb, camellia, fynbos, hydrangea). The homestead is open to visitors and is full of classical Cape Dutch furniture and there are picnic areas too (although you don’t bring your own food but buy pre-packed boxes at the estate) and, for posher-nosh, the Lady Philips Restaurant.

We were there for the wines though. A pouring of the Sauvignon Blanc was served alongside fresh oysters – to general acclaim of my compatriots, but not moi as I ‘don’t do’ oysters. But my ‘line fish’ in the Lady Philips restaurant, later, was beautifully moist and accompanied the lightly oaked Vergelegen Chardonnay 2008 superbly [picture].

White Wine Review/Tasting NoteWine Tasting Note: Vergelegen Sauvignon Blanc, 2008, Western Cape, South Africa.
[More: Adegga / Snooth]
97% Sauvignon with the remainder being Semillon. Lovely crisp, frim fruit, fresh. Touches of fig, gooseberry and a pleasant leafy-ness (straw, green peppers, peas) Alcohol 13.5%.
Scribblings Rating – 88/100 [3.5 out of 5]

White Wine Review/Tasting NoteWine Tasting Note: Vergelegen Chardonnay, 2008, Western Cape, South Africa.

[More: Adegga / Snooth]
Medium bodied by design, 60% in oak giving a subtle oak-complexity, not too heavy either (medium bodied). Pear, cream, apple flavours; a typical Chardonnay.
Scribblings Rating – 88/100 [3.5 out of 5]

Red Wine Review/Tasting NoteWine Tasting Note: Vergelegen Reserve Sauvignon Blanc, 2008, Stellenbosch, South Africa
[More on Adegga / Snooth]
A single vineyard wine – the 2 hectare vinyard on the lower Schaapenberg. More complexity here with a little lees contact giving a creaminess to the flavour and a more rounded texture. Floral touches enliven the herbaceous palate. Minerals, peach stones and citrus play around too. Beautiful. Alcohol 14.5%.
Scribblings Rating – 92/100 [4 out of 5]

Red Wine Review/Tasting NoteWine Tasting Note: Vergelegen Cabernet Reserve, 2005, Stellenbosch, South Africa.

Price: £9.99 [More on Adegga / Snooth]
Cabernet dominates here (91%) with Cabernet Franc and Merlot splitting the remainder. Superb berry aroma – very, very Bordeaux-like. Savoury depths, touches of herbs. Firm palate, but smooth until the great burst of tannin led blackfruits hits the tastebuds. The grapes were selected from Vergelegen’s Stonepine, Rondekop, Rooiland and Kopland Vineyards. Alcohol 14.5%.

Age worthy; a 2004 was also sampled.
Scribblings Rating – 92/100 [4 out of 5]

I’ve lost the original reference to this salad dish – but from the picture it comprises chickpeas, fresh tomatoes, parsley, rocket and goats cheese. The latter is of course a classic partner to Sauvignon Blanc. The Vergelegen Reserve Sauvignon was a superb match.
vergelegen sauvignon blanc and a salad
Buying Vergelegen Wines: The Vineking offers a mixed case of Vergelegen wines for £105; otherwise check out the list of Top 5 South African Wine Retailers.

1 Comment
  1. Dylan May 5, 2009

    There are three tree-types which give me a mystical feeling. The willow, the redwood, and the Oak tree you have here. These latter two trees have this tremendous quality of wisdom, as odd as that sounds. They grow for centuries as their trunks thicken and their roots seem to make an eternal bond with the earth. More than just sitting in their shade, being in their presence creates this feeling of perspective in your own size and your own time spent on earth.


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