There is something incredibly nostalgic when in the Cape Winelands and you see a kaleidoscope of green vineyards change into beautiful colours of burnt amber, browns and oranges. A tapestry of autumn leaves in a vibrant display that beckons to be photographed.
Well what better way to celebrate a Summer Wine Down and another fruitful harvest in the winelands than at Muratie Wine Estate. Muratie is a piece of living history with exceptional old-world charm and style to match. Many attributes of the farm have been left untouched for decades to retain the traditions that the Melck family have aimed to preserve.
The Melck family and the Muratie team welcomed us to their second Summer Wine Down. The Wine Estate greets you with a sense of nostalgia of cobbled walkways and tall trees, all set in a secret garden, reminiscent of a time in history that just simply draws you in.
We were welcomed with the life and soul of the party, Lady Alice MCC Rosé 2017. Made from Pinot Noir grapes, it is a gorgeous and refreshing MCC with its beautiful rose gold colour and inviting aromas of strawberries and raspberries lifted by mouth-watering acidity and offset by a shortbread richness and creamy mouthfeel. This bubbly is elegant and floral and fit for any occasion as it is simply divine!
As the wife of a senator, Lady Alice Sarah Stanford would rub shoulders with ministers, dine at ‘Tuinhuis’, host balls, officiate at college sports days – and by all accounts every event she attended turned into a dance party. Hers was the life of the English ‘landed gentry’, from hunting and shooting to lawn tennis and fancy dress, so life at Muratie was very festive indeed after she bought it in 1909.
Together with the bubbly, we enjoyed a spread of delicious bites. From crispy arancini balls with a decadent blue camembert cheese centre and flavourful samoosas enchanting the taste buds, to a selection of locally produced cured meats, cheeses and biscuits. It was delicious and moreish.
Owner, enthusiast and brilliant story teller, Rijk Melck is a descendent of Martin Melck. Through Rijk’s amazing skill to capture a story, whilst sitting in the garden you almost taste the history and it is so mesmerising that one cannot help being moved by a sense of the many generations who moulded Muratie Wine Estate for what it is today.
Each wine honours and pays tribute to the previous generation such as Laurens Campher, Ansela van de Caab, George Paul Canitz, Martin Melck, Ronnie Melck, Alberta Annemarie, Lady Alice Stanford, Ben Prins and Isabella, Rijk’s daughter.
Isabella Chardonnay 2020 is a delightful and elegant wine with a peach-blossom fragrance. It spent 11 months in French oak barrels and developed flavours of tropical fruits with hints of hazelnuts and vanilla. The minerality gives it a lingering finish. I appreciate a wonderful Chardonnay, and this one definitely ticks all the boxes
This elegant Muratie Chardonnay, appeals to both wooded and unwooded Chardonnay drinkers, is named after Rijk and Kim Melck’s elegant eldest daughter, Isabella.
We were spoilt tasting and comparing Martin Melck Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 and 2017 vintages. My favourite was the 2014 vintage which was absolutely smooth and divine and spent 20 months in oak, whereas for the 2017 showing its vibrant fruity characteristics of a beautiful Cab Sav, it spent 18 months in oak. Classically styled and restrained with concentrated dark fruits of black cherries, berries and plums creating a full-bodied and complex wine, a wine of integration, balance and great length true to its terroir. The oak integration is seamless while imparting an exotic spice perfume.
Rijk’s forefather, Martin Melck, bought De Driesprong (Muratie) in 1763 and the farm remained in the hands of his descendants for 134 years, during which time the Muratie manor house was built. He was a mercenary who acquired immense wealth at the Cape, primarily through marriage, he was also a devout Lutheran who felt so aggrieved that members of his faith were forbidden to form a congregation that he built a ‘schuilkerk’ (hidden church) alongside his own home in Cape Town. His greatest hope was that Lutherans would one day be able to worship openly–and indeed this came to pass one year before his death. His greatest love, though, was for his daughter, Anna Catherina, for whom he bought Muratie.
Ansela van de Caab 2019 is a Bordeaux-style red blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. Vibrant, attractive notes of black cherry, plum, raspberry and spice draw you in immediately, and continue on to the palate expressing rich, savoury flavours of black olive tapenade, cassis with elegant tannins, fresh acidity and a long finish.
Born into slavery at the Cape (her mother a slave from West Africa, her white father most likely a servant of the Dutch East India Company), Ansela lived at the notorious Slave Lodge and worked in the Company’s Garden until her manumission in 1695, when Laurens Campher brought her home to Muratie, along with their three children.
Martin Melck Cabernet Sauvignon Family Reserve 2018 is a 100% Simonsberg Stellenbosch Cabernet Sauvignon shows a rich ruby colour with cassis, plum and black berries on the nose. On the palate there is a great balance and integration of fruit and oak. The wine has a strong mid-palate and offers a full, lingering aftertaste.
The passion for preserving the estate’s rich, centuries-old heritage is captured in every nook and cranny of this family farm. Beautiful old Cape Dutch buildings, crumbling statues, antique wine-making equipment, and the quaint tasting room with its cobwebs, stained glass windows and art, are all set in a secret garden, a lush green haven of peace and tranquillity.
Muratie is also home to the contemporary MOK Gallery. ‘MOK’, an abbreviation for modern kontemporêr, is the Afrikaans translation for modern contemporary. Art is an important aspect of the Muratie history with the late owner and artist, George Paul Canitz, serving much of his tenure on the estate. The gallery is located in Ansela van de Caab’s house, dating from 1685.
9 Orphans Distillery
In a cosy corner surrounded by beautiful oak trees on Muratie Wine Estate, is where you would find 9 Orphans Distillery. 9 Orphans Distillery is a small family-owned South African distillery creating unique handcrafted spirits with lots of love.
The Eikesap Gin is inspired by the oak trees lining the vibrant streets of Stellenbosch. The acorns used in the gin are hand-picked and combined with the finest sourced botanicals to create a gin that is nutty in flavour yet layered with spice. Delicate juniper ties it all together leaving an extraordinary finish.
The refreshing Turksvy Gin contains 12 hand-selected botanicals and prickly pears are one of them. The prickly pears are hand harvested at Muratie. Juniper carries the delicate fruit flavours of the prickly pear to a silky sweet citrus finish.
We took a stroll through the cellar where Desmond Binneman told stories about Ben Prins and the process of their Port-style wine made from Portuguese varieties to produce a unique field blend called Ben Prins Cape Vintage.
A wonderful lunch awaited us under the oak tree planted by Ansela and Laurens with live entertainment set against a beautiful backdrop of Table Mountain and vineyards and most importantly with excellent wine never too far away.