The De Waal family, Uiterwyk Homestead and its vineyards in the Stellenbosch Kloof are inextricably linked to Pinotage, South Africa’s own red grape wine variety. Created in the late 1920s by Professor Abraham Perold, it was not until 1941 that there were sufficient grapes to make a barrel of Pinotage wine. It was to CT de Waal, born in the Uiterwyk Homestead, an Oenologist to whom Perold turned to make that first barrel. Sadly, Perold died a short while later in 1941, so he never had a taste of his creation.
The Top of the Hill Vineyard with its Fig Tree Protector
The Top of the Hill Vineyard on the Estate was planted by Danie de Waal father of the present owner, Pieter, and his brother, Koffie (Coffee) de Waal, in 1950 – sixty-eight years ago! This vineyard is now the oldest Pinotage Vineyard in the world. It stands on the top of a small hillock on the estate. With a large fig tree planted there by Danie de Waal as a protection to the vineyard workers during flurries of rain. The tree still stands there almost as a protector of the vineyard. At that great age, the vineyard is producing a very small crop, though the quality and concentration of the grapes is superb and has led to the Top of the Hill Pinotage being awarded 6 times in the annual top Ten Pinotage Awards. Interesting also that this wine was chosen in 2016 by Italian Food and Wine Commentator, Francesca Negri, in her book “1001 Wines to Enjoy once in a Lifetime.” Quite an accolade.
The Top of the Hill Vineyard is planted with bush vines, is one hectare in size on a warmer north facing slope, and yields a small 2 tons per hectare. Destalked, crushed and allowed a 14 day fermentation and maceration time, the wine was matured in 225 litre French oak barrels, all of which were new. The wine was then prepared for bottling.
It looks like
Bottled under natural cork closure in a Bordeaux bottle with the elegant DeWaal Wines livery. It has been mistaken in France for a Bordeaux style blend. In the glass, it is an Indian Ink black plum at the core which pales out to ruby at the edges.
It smells like
Rich raspberry and ripe elderberries. Oak and its concomitant spices in undertow.
It tastes like
How can one not have all sorts of emotion going on when you taste a wine that comes from a 68-year-old vineyard, from a respected wine family, from a wine appellation of note, made first by a family member, and, and, and. However, it is a joy from entry to exit. Beautifully constructed, it immediately fills the mid palate generously with billows of fruit, backed by oak and cashmere clad tannins. A broad, long finish of breadth and satisfaction.
It’s good with
Definitely a food wine and it needs a fully flavoured dish as an accompaniment. Thoughts fly to some traditional South African dishes like Tomato Bredie and Bobotie, and a good long piece of spicy boerewors. I always think of vegetarians who enjoy drinking wine, and what dish they may use as a partner. I found a corker by Tracy Foulkes, her Festive Vegetarian Wellington. Click here for her recipe.
DeWaal Pinotage Rosé 2017
A brand new and very welcome addition to the DeWaal Pinotage Collection, their Pinotage Rosé 2017. Pretty pink and when we offered it to friends, the comment was, “now this is what a Rosé should taste like.” Well balanaced, dry and crisp with red berry flavours like cranberry and pomegranate. This wine is only available on the Estate, so do make your way out there. You can have one of their stunning local cheese platters while sitting on the terrace looking up at the Top of the Hill Vineyards.
Read more about DeWaal Wines – CLICK HERE