One of my best wine experiences in 2017 was a day spent on the beautiful Glenelly Estate in the Stellenbosch Wine Appellation. Owned by Madame May Eliane de Lencquesaing since 2003, this is one of the gems of Stellenbosch. We joined Winemaker Luke O’ Cuinneagain, also responsible for African Sales, for a private tasting of his wines and we quietly worked our way through the full range – Glenelly’s ultimate experience.
Backing up Luke in the Vineyards is Heinrich Louw, who has been with Madame May since she bought the farm back in 2003. She once told me “he came with the estate.” His work in the vineyards is on show each day with lovely views from the tasting room and The Vine Bistro – and indeed in your glass. You really need to go and eat there, it is, as they say in the Guide Michelin, well worth the drive. Christophe Dehosse, for me one of the unsung culinary heroes of the Cape Winelands, produces some brilliant dishes in a simple rustic French Style, so perfect to go with the food.
One of the things you must do when visiting Glenelly is to put aside time to visit the Glass Museum, and Internationally renowned collection put together by Madame May. She told me once that “wine and glass both come from sand.” This collection has modern pieces and others going back to ancient Roman times.
The Glenelly Wines, in my opinion, are underrated and perhaps under-priced. Luke certainly has a touch. He uses natural vineyard yeasts. In the case of wooded wines, the wines go into French oak barrels after the wine making process is over.
There are two ranges of wines, The Glass Collection and the Estate Reserves. The Estate Flagship is the Lady May. The Lady May 2011 is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petit Verdot. In the glass, Indian Ink black at the core, pales out to ruby at the edges. A complex wine with wonderful layers of dark fruits supported by cashmere clad tannins and superbly applied oak.
The Glenelly Estate Reserve is a Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon blend and a wine which Luke said ‘is held dearest to our hearts’.
The Third wine in the Estate Reserve range is the magnificent Chardonnay. There is a wonderful fruit sweetness in this wine – even though it is dry. The oak in which the wine was matured support the bright fruit. Fits in perfectly with the Glenelly mantra of Power, Elegance and Balance.
Then there are the 5 wines in The Glass Collection, all of them with elegant labels containing a piece of glass from the Glenelly Collection. Bottled under screw cap.
The Glass Collection Chardonnay is unwooded and is packed with a generosity of fruit in a beautiful round comforting mouthful. Great glass on its own, and fabulous with food.
The Glass Collection Merlot is perhaps more fynbos herbal in its early years and as it ages the fruit starts to shine through. Concentrated and layered with red, black and blue fruits and soft tannins in a long ending.
The Glass Collection Cabernet Franc is a newcomer to the range. Lovely purple edged wine, perhaps more Bordeaux than Loire with graphite and cherry top notes. Plenty spiced plums, silken tannins and a long and gently waning aftertaste.
The Glass Collection Cabernet Sauvignon is one of the Stellenbosch classics. Grown on the foothills of the Simonsberg, the wine displays all the Cabernet attributes. Blackcurrant, blackberry and roadside brambles blend happily with soft tannins and an undertow of oak. Dried cherries and Crème de Cassis on the satisfying aftertaste.
And finally, The Glass Collection Shiraz. 40% of the grapes for this wine were whole bunch pressed. Plummy, berried, spiced with sweet brown spices and a touch of Jamon Iberico. Again, Luke has achieved great balance, cashmere clad tannins and bright fruit in the slowly passing aftertaste.
Glenelly should be on your bucket list, if not, carve it there in stone. And get thee hence.
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