Words: Richard Holmes | Images: Supplied
Great wines have a story to tell: of the vintage past, the soils they grow in and the cellar hands that shape them. And when an estate dates back more than 200 years, there’s no shortage of tales to tell.
Those tales are the inspiration behind the “Short Story Collection” from Stellenbosch estate Neethlingshof, a portfolio of premium wines celebrating the rich history of the estate and the modern-day sustainability success of the vineyards.
“The Short Story Collection was born with The Owl Post Pinotage,” says winemaker De Wet Viljoen, who has been at the estate for 15 years. “We wanted to bring the biodiversity and history of the estate into the wines.”
While the owl houses attract avian predators, the introduction of fynbos islands between the vineyards has also seen the return of caracal to the farm. This elegant cat is honoured with a Bordeaux-style red blend, a suitably sleek and full-bodied red well suited to winter evenings.
Then there’s the Jackal’s Dance, a single-vineyard Sauvignon Blanc which brims with gooseberries and tropical notes underpinned by crisp minerality. It’s a nod to the jackals that the farmer, Willem Barend Lubbe, must have mistaken for wolves when he named the estate De Wolvendans in 1692.
The name only changed to Neethlingshof in the 1800s, when Johannes Henoch Neethling bought the farm from his mother-in-law, Maria Magdalena Marais.
A young widow, Maria was instrumental in shaping modern-day Neethlingshof, building the cellar, planting new vineyards and completing the landmark Manor House. On the gable, she fashioned six stone flowers: one for each of her children and one for herself.
So it’s fitting that the farm’s flagship white wine blend is dubbed “The Six Flowers”. A superb blend of all the white varietals grown on the property, the backbone of Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay are complemented by the aromatics of Viognier, Gewürztraminer and Weisser Riesling. And Maria herself completes the Short Story Collection.
From the unusual combination of Weisser Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc, De Wet has crafted a superb Noble Late Harvest. On the nose, there’s dried apricots and honey, with a lingering palate of balanced sweetness and acidity. A fine tribute to the matriarch of this memorable estate.
For more information on Neethlingshof, phone 021 883 8988 or visit the website.