Ever heard of the Frankenthaler Grape? Bet you haven’t. It is a parent of Muscat de Hambourg, the other is Muscat d’Alexandrie. My first memory of ‘Black Hamburg’ was seeing 8 vines, planted in large pots in a greenhouse in England. The vines, which were clippings from the oldest Black Hamburg vines in England in Hampton Palace, had been trellised up against the steel frame of the greenhouse. They were tended by my friend’s gardener, a member of the Royal Society of Horticulturists. It is a wonderful table grape, eating the grapes, after they had been chilled, was one of the best grape tastes I have ever had. I love Muscat Grapes, and these were sensational. The vine is, like most vines, a steady grower which produces these large loose bunches of large purple berries.
James Ochse, the Stellenbosch Hills Winemaker says “Sweeter wines have a loyal following in South Africa and are often the starting point for many newcomers to wine. We often have visitors to the tasting room who eagerly share their nostalgia of the Muscat de Hambourg; everyone has a story.” I have mine.
The first vintage of the Stellenbosch Hills Muscat de Hambourg 2018 took place 30 years ago. The vines were replaced in 2001 and now grow on trellised vines in a vineyard just under a hectare in size. The wine making process is in the very simple Jerepigo. The grapes are pressed, and the juice is then fortified with wine spirit. The 2018 is the only single variety of this wine produced in the winelands.
From a classical Port and Sweet Wine shaped bottle closed with the T cork, a natural cork with a plastic top with ridged edges for easy removal. The label is elegant with a drawing of the local vineyards. In the glass, it is a toffee coloured gem bright amber. The aromas are enchanting, Muscat prevailing, cherries and sweet red berries, fraises des bois. The flavour is truly grapey, notes of rose water, sweet spices and a refreshing acidity which runs through to the aftertaste. The wine is given away at R65.00 a bottle, how can you resist that price? If cool cellared, it will mature happily for up to five years and reward you amply.
Chilled, it makes a truly great glass any time of the day. Excellent at the beginning of a menu with soup or a smooth chicken or duck liver parfait. Excellent at the end of a meal with dessert. Pour it over ice cream. Serve it with ice. Dianne Bibby’s Apple Galette with Walnut Frangipane & Caramel is the perfect dessert or tea bake. Click here for her recipe.
Read more about Stellenbosch Hills – CLICK HERE