Shining, thriving and innovating: Perdeberg looks to the future as it celebrates 80 years

June 2021, Perdeberg Cellar is celebrating the milestone of 80 years in the winemaking industry this July with the launch of its campaign 80 Years Unearthed. At the helm of the festivities is a limited-edition bordeaux blend, Rex Equus 2019, inspired by the Paarl cellar’s history of exceptional quality over the last four decades. Wine lovers can also join the celebration by entering to win their share of R80 000 in prizes.

Established in 1941 at the foothills of the Paardeberg Mountain, Perdeberg is known for producing remarkable ‘dry land’ wines that express the uniqueness of this terroir. The business was born when Jan Rossouw gathered together farmers in the region with a vision to make wines of their own instead of selling their grapes on. For the 80 years that have passed since then, Perdeberg has remained committed to eight key cornerstones of its DNA: heritage, innovation, relationships, dryland, chenin blanc, location, sustainability and excellence.

These cornerstones are passed from generation to generation of the talented and passionate people that Perdeberg calls its own. The business has survived, thrived and grown into the entity it is today due to the commitment of these custodians of the brand. Perdeberg CEO Gerhard van der Watt is justifiably proud of this achievement: “For a company to be continuously relevant throughout all the changes that we’re seeing in the world, and still be so successful, is a phenomenal feat.”

With a focus on constant innovation, Perdeberg has evolved into an export-led, diversified business, which encompasses its own award-winning brands, a South African distribution company, a bulk wine trading centre, and a destination with a restaurant and tasting room. It was one of the first cellars to appoint a full-time viticulturist, was the birthplace of some groundbreaking dry land ploughing technology, and has seen some of the best-known winemakers in the country pass through its doors throughout its history. But at the root of its success is the grape and the land it is grown on: “We are where we are because of the commitment of our producers to go with us in whatever direction we’ve taken,” says van der Watt. “I commend them for their hard work and tenacity.”

It is fitting that the 80 Years Unearthed celebrations are led by a wine to showcase Perdeberg’s decades of expertise. The limited-release Rex Equus Pioneer’s Blend 2019 comprises 38% Malbec, 35% Cabernet Sauvignon, 17% Merlot and 10% Petit Verdot. Meaning ‘King of Horses’ in Latin, the wine is powerful yet elegant.

Why is this limited release not a chenin, since Perdeberg is the Home of Chenin Blanc™? Cellarmaster Albertus Louw explains, “For the 80th, we wanted to do something different, something special. We looked for top quality and ageing potential, and imagined the best wine we could create. Only grapes from the best selected blocks were used, combining the best selected terroir for each of the cultivars. We’ve got some exceptional malbec in our area, and we’re really excited about malbec for the future.” So, while the Rex Equus looks back to celebrate the past 80 years, it also has its eye on what’s to come.

As with all Perdeberg wines, dry land growing conditions played an integral part in the fruit quality and intensity for this blend. The grapes were hand-picked at optimal ripeness and harvested in small batches. The wine spent a total of 18 months in 500-litre French Oak barrels; and only the best barrels were selected and blended to create a harmony of flavours and balance.

The result is a rich wine with a bouquet of dark fruit and dried spices, hinting of cherries and vanilla. Bigger barrels were used to get better integration for a more fruit-driven wine with less oak.

The Rex Equus will be packaged in an elegant wooden box, and in line with our year of birth, only 1941 numbered bottles (750ml) were produced, which will be sold for R600 each, in addition to 80 magnums (1.5L) for R1200 each. This exclusive, limited release wine will only be accessible via an online application platform and given the enthusiastic enquiries to date, will require early action from collectors wanting to share in our history celebration with at least one of these numbered units! This age-worthy wine has incredible structure, making it perfect to cellar for many years and enjoy on a truly special occasion.

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