It’s International Port Wine Day on 10th September, a designated day to celebrate one of the wine world’s oldest and most interesting pleasures. Made famous in Portugal, Port is now produced around the world, however, under the European Union Protected Designation of Origin guidelines, only wines from Portugal are allowed to be labelled “Port”. Since 2012 all “Port”-styled wines produced in South Africa, previously called Cape Port, are bottled under the prefix Cape followed by the appropriate style, Cape Ruby, Cape Tawny and Cape Vintage. A Port by any other name will taste as sweet.

Rijk and Kim Melck with their precious Saartjie

Muratie wine Estate is owned by the Melck Family with Rijk and his wife Kim as custodians. The legendary Annatjie Melck, lives in the Manor House.

Muratie’s ‘Port’, which became synonymous with the popular family estate, was first produced by George Paul Canitz in the 1940’s, more than 80 years ago. Winemaker Ben Prins arrived at Muratie in 1957, just before GP Canitz died, and the Muratie Port tradition continued during the 30 years while Ben was at Muratie, and still continues today.

Ben Prins having a little taste in the Cellar

I remember visiting Muratie in the 1970s to buy some “Port”  and met “Barefoot Ben”, who wore shoes for going to church on a Sunday. A hard-working, no-nonsense kind of a man – quiet, contemplative and exceptionally particular – he was both a perfectionist and a traditionalist. It was said of perfectionist Ben that he knew wine like the back of his hand! Muratie Ben Prins Cape Vintage Port 2017 is produced from a vineyard planted way back in 1973. The traditional Portuguese varietals (Tinta Barocca, Tinta Roritz, Tinta Francesca and Souzao) are all planted in the same block. This block is harvested together so this “field blend” is unique to the Muratie Cape Vintage. The hand harvested (field blend) grapes are crushed, destalked and pumped into a classic open concrete fermenter. Manual punch downs and pump overs are done at regular intervals. Fortification with grape spirits is done at the critical time to ensure the classic Muratie styled Vintage Port. The port wine is matured in old 225l French Oak barrels for a minimum of two years prior to being bottled.

Muratie Tasting Room, spider webs and all

From a traditional black ‘Port’ bottle, closed with natural cork. The label is black, elegant, I really like it, so dignified. In the glass, the wine is unctuous with a dark bloodplum at the heart which pales out to a rich ruby at th edges. The aromas are of Palma Violets, prune plums, perfumed red roses, and oak with its concomitant spice and vanilla. From entry the palate is rich and generous, preserved Morello Cherries in a dark syrup, desiccated figs and a mélange of roasted nuts. The ending is one of cherry tobacco, a syrupy spicy confection with a long and deeply satisfying aftertaste. Eminently drinkable now though will reward with up to 10 years of cool cellaring.

Stilton with Savoury Shortbread

When I was in Oporto a while back David Guimaraes of the Port Houses of Ferreira, Croft and Taylors told me that the French love a Port & Tonic as a cooling summer drink. They will often drink it as an apéritif. An after tea drink when served with a piece of Pound Cake. A slug of it in a lamb casserole, or as a marinade for lamb chops it works well. Stilton, or any creamy blue cheese, spread on savoury shortbread is so perfect with a glass of port is a marriage in heaven.

Read more about Muratie Estate, its Wines and hospitality offerings – CLICK HERE

September 9th, 2021|Categories: Michael's Writings|

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