The Graaff family, owners of De Grendel Wine Estate in the Tygerberg Hills, farm apples and pear up in the Winterhoek Mountains near Ceres. A special Wine Appellation which has a continental climate rather than the marine climate vineyards to which we are used in the Cape. The vineyards in the Op die Berg appellation are at times in the winter covered in snow. Also, at ideal ripeness, the vineyards are about 2 weeks later than the vineyards nearer to the coast.
The grapes for the De Grendel Op die Berg Chardonnay 2018 are picked by hand at the break of dawn and then taken in all haste to the De Grendel Cellar for sorting, destemming, crushing and a gentle pressing. The juice is allowed to clear settle for 2 days and is then racked to French oak barrels for fermentation. The barrel combination was one third each of new barrels, second fill barrels and third fill barrels. The wine is matured for 6 months on its lees, sur lie in French. Bâtonnage, the stirring of the lees with a baton, takes place regularly. This adds to the mouthfeel, mid palate flavours and a creaminess to the wine. Malolactic fermentation takes place in the barrel, adding yet further flavours. Charles Hopkins, Founding Cellarmaster and his team then prepared the wine for bottling.
From a Burgundy shaped bottle, closed with an elegant screw cap. The label is typical classical De Grendel, black with gold printing. In the glass the wine is a pale golden straw, gem bright, with ‘legs’ forming when you swirl the wine. The aromas and palate are fresh and citrussy, windfall orange preserve and the coconut and vanilla of the oak in support. Full mid palate with all the components interwoven in perfect harmony in a long, satisfying and lasting aftertaste. This wine will benefit from a year or two of cool cellaring, offering greater rewards later.
This is a food wine, a serious sipper. It is so full flavoured that it will tackle dishes of equal weight. Nadia Graves’s Moules Marinière is one of my favourite dishes. A perfect match with the De Grendel Op die Berg Chardonnay 2018, and so easy to make. Nadia lives and cooks and teaches in the South of France. Click HERE for her recipe.
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