STELLENBOSCH estate Delheim has just unveiled the highly anticipated new vintage of Edelspatz Riesling – one of the wine world’s iconic Noble Late Harvests (NLH) and most consistently awarded wines since its inception in 1979.
Renowned the world over, Edelspatz has risen to status as a true folk icon. The wine was, for one, a regular delivery to De Tuynhuys, when Nelson Mandela held office as president. Celebrated British wine authority Oz Clarke rated Delheim one of the best producers of dessert wine in the world.
Remarkably, it is made from a single 35-year-old Riesling vineyard. This fact saw the wine’s 2019 vintage become the first of its kind certified as a member of South Africa’s select Old Vine wines, hailing from an accredited heritage vineyard. The rarity of this wine cannot be stressed enough, especially considering the decline in Riesling vineyards due to the difficulty in producing high-quality wine from them.
“The variety needs cooler climatic conditions to be its best, and it is not the highest yielding cultivar. It is very, very susceptible to botrytis infection too,” declares Delheim winemaker Roelof Lotriet.
The original Riesling vines at Delheim were planted by the farm’s famous patriarch, the late Spatz Sperling – from whom Edelspatz (edel meaning noble) gets its name. Especially during his first years on the farm, Spatz often experimented in the pursuit of matching varieties to their best location. Fortunately, Delheim had one of Stellenbosch’s highest (and coolest) areas for planting vineyards at the time and this is where he situated the Riesling.
The realisation of Edelspatz however initially seemed like failure. Spatz recounts in his diary that the season leading up to harvest in 1979 had been rainy and cool. “Checking on my vineyards, I found excessive rot and wrote off the grapes as basically useless material…having nothing better to do than wallow in my sorrow, I went to collect the mail…”
On the way, he bumped into a fellow winemaker and shared his mood. The response he received was unexpected: “No man, Spatz!” declared the friend. “Those are the best grapes for a Noble Late Harvest.” The advice came from none other than Frans Malan at Simonsig.
What had seemed to be a flop, turned out to be one of Delheim’s greatest treasures.
Enjoy now or cellar for up to 30 years. R330 per bottle here.