Vergelegen in Somerset West is one of the most beautiful and historic wine estates, in a part of the world where one can be forgiven for saying, “Oh, not another gable.” Originally the country retreat (30 000 hectares) of Cape Governor Willem Adriaan van der Stel, it’s since been owned by some of the Cape’s most interesting personalities. Van der Stel planted almost half a million vine stocks before recalled to Holland on charges of corrupt practices.
After his departure, it passed through many other hands until gold magnate Sir Lionel Phillips bought the ramshackle property in 1917 for his wife, the legendary Lady Florence Phillips. She brought her gardener from England and had all the vines pulled up before spending plenty of her husband’s money turning it into a vast, gorgeous garden.
The Barlow family (1941 onwards) planted some vines, but it wasn’t until it became the property of Anglo American in 1987 that wine again became a serious part of Vergelegen. Under their tutelage, as well as people like winemaker André van Rensburg who has been there for 20 years, the wines have become world-famous.
The rose garden is spectacular, and the camphor trees reputedly planted by Willem van der Stel and National Monuments now, take one back to a time when life was lived in style, some money, and the tranquillity to enjoy it all. Today, only 158 hectares of the original land is under vines, planted with Bordeaux grapes and others.
André’s wines are knockouts, packed with fruit and handled with minimal interference, which perfectly reflects the land from which it comes. Platter’s wine guide features no fewer than 11 of his wines as worthy of more than four-star status, a ranking few others achieve.
Born in Johannesburg, André says he is living his dream on “the most beautiful farm in all the world” with his wife Maritza, who also works for the company. “It’s more important to interpret overseas wines than to slavishly copy them. My aim is to produce wines that are mirrors of the Vergelegen DNA, our terroir.”
Delicious, with well-controlled wood supporting luscious fruit flavours. Barrel fermented, on the lees for ten months. A hundred per cent Vergelegen estate grapes. R130 at the cellar. Perfect with grilled prawns or chicken.
Premium Shiraz 2015
Fabulous ruby colour, superb nose with plenty of blackberries and typical spicy notes. Lovely long finish with lingering fruit taste. R140. Heaven with roast beef or pork.
Premium Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot 2012
Intense flavours follow a cassis nose packed with fruit flavours, gorgeous. One could be in France. Very well priced at R140. Cries out for grilled steak. Cool to 16 degrees.