Without doubt the centre of the Cape wine universe, Stellenbosch boasts a myriad of producers, varieties and styles but only a handful are dedicated to the most fickle red variety of them all – Pinot Noir.
Those who can be singled out for particular dedication to the grape include Meerlust, Muratie, Vriesenhof and relative newcomer Pepin Conde, all of whom are beginning to master – if it’s possible - the heart break grape.
All have been fine tuning things according to her capricious demands including relocating vineyards (I want a view please), planting of modern clones (only the best gear will do), and experimenting with fermentation techniques and oaking (The best spa treatments please).
It was first planted on the slopes of Stellenbosch’s Simonsberg in 1927 while 2011 marks the 40th Anniversary of the Stellenbosch Wine Route and the 10th of its Wine Festival (28-31 July 2011).
|Muratie's at once historic and hedonistic cellar|
Muratie – site of the first plantings - have re-located their modern clone vineyard lower down the valley after discovering that higher is not always cooler and have found that gentler extraction is more suited to the new site. This wine (‘09) showed good purity of fruit and was the most structured of the four with firm tannins – for Pinot that is. Oaking here is 30% new from Burgundian coopers. (R150 per bottle ex farm). Winemaker Francois Conradie has been the impact player but he plans on making it a longer tenure.