THE year 1945 is forever etched into human history as the end of a disastrous war. For a small group of wine farmers in Stellenbosch, it marked a victory in independence 75 years ago that would eventually lead to the establishment of Stellenbosch Hills.
The event is especially significant in the case of the just-released Stellenbosch Hills Bushvine Pinotage 2017. Pinotage was the first red wine cultivar bottled under the young winery’s name. Back then, it was known as Vlottenburg Cellar and became Stellenbosch Hills in 2003.
While the roots of the Stellenbosch Hills were first sown with the establishment of the region’s vineyards in 1707, a dramatic shift was in the offing upon the conclusion of WW2. Like many of their compatriots, farmers of the Vlottenburg region had long been required by law to deliver their grapes to a single, government co-operative. Tired of waiting in long, pre-dawn queues to deliver their grapes and sacrifice their very identity in generic wines, the farmers took the opportunity and founded their own winery.
For several decades, much of their fruit supplied a distiller of fine brandy. But, in 1970, a new step was taken by the pioneering group, and it was a Pinotage that led the way for Stellenbosch Hills. The uniquely South African variety grown around the world today was created by Abraham Perold while he was professor of Viticulture at the University of Stellenbosch.
Today, this heritage remains part of the essence of the new Stellenbosch Hills Bushvine Pinotage 2017.
Harvested with the same pride and care, its fruit was vinified with precision. It then spent 14 months in French and American oak barrels to rest, where it developed a rich and full character. Deep ruby-red, the wine finely balances complex notes of blackberries, plums and mulberries, gently entwined by hints of vanilla oak, banana, dark chocolate and cigar box. It is pure velvet on the palate, lingering long after the last sip.
The new Pinotage is however not the only centre of excitement at the winery. Joining the latest vintage Bushvine Pinotage release are the Stellenbosch Hills Cabernet Sauvignon 2017, Merlot 2017 and Shiraz 2017. The fruit used in their making was sourced from a palette of terroirs to which Stellenbosch Hills has access to. Indeed, its winemaking is approached as an artist may approach a painting.
The grapes are sourced from various vineyards owned and maintained by 16 different producers from farms surrounding the town of Stellenbosch. This world-famous wine-producing region is known for the diversity of its rich agricultural soils and its moderate, Mediterranean-style climate, making it the perfect place to grow grapes that create the award-winning wines Stellenbosch Hills has become famous for.
The latest 2017 vintage Stellenbosch Hills red wines sell for around R85 a bottle. They’re available from the winery, which is now open for sales but no tastings, and selected boutique wine stores, as well as online through the Stellenbosch Hills website. For more information about Stellenbosch Hills, click here, call 021 881 3828/9; or, email [email protected]. Stellenbosch Hills is also on Twitter as @stbhills, and Facebook.