Once-off edition of SA iconic red Chateau Libertas makes history

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WHAT better reason to celebrate? Born in 1932, South Africa’s great-granddad of red blends, Chateau Libertas, isn’t just going strong, it’s flourishing. To mark its good health and longevity, the cellar has issued a 90th anniversary, limited-edition 2021 vintage bottling in both magnums and 750ml standard size. The once-off blend, sourced from top-performing Stellenbosch vineyards, honours an important man in the brand’s history, the late Duimpie (Francis Carr) Bayly.

A doyen of South African wine, Bayly was closely involved with Chateau Libertas for 60 years, from the early 1960s until his death in 2021. From the viticultural to the winemaking and technical expertise he imparted, he helped entrench the blend’s status as a fine-quality, smooth-drinking, outstanding value red with a remarkable ability to age. But that was only part of the story. Bayly also helped to shape the local industry, contributing to South Africa’s Wine of Origin legislation, to raising local standards, to promoting conservation of biodiversity and to building international awareness of Cape wine.

Duimpie Bayly

You can join the celebration and be a part of local wine history by buying the special-edition wine for yourself and/or as a gift. Proceeds from the sale will go towards a planned memorial centre at the University of Stellenbosch. Intended to mark Bayly’s role in South African wine, along with the contribution of other wine luminaries, it will acknowledge many of the country’s previously unsung wine heroes.

The centre is to be housed within the university’s historic Welgevallen farm complex that is currently being restored. Visitors will be able to share in the rich trove of historical and archival material being collated, and to access personal histories and stories, as well as studies, data and findings from experiments of academic interest.

The 2021 limited-edition blend has been made by the acclaimed Bonny van Niekerk, with support from editor of Winemag, Christian Eedes; internationally renowned wine critic Michael Fridjhon; and veteran wine communication specialist, Bennie Howard CWM.

The Cabernet Sauvignon that leads the blend came from Bottelary Hills and Jonkershoek vines grown in deep red clay soils. The Cinsault grapes were harvested from a 28-year-old bush vine vineyard in Koelenhof. Each vineyard block was individually vinified, with the Cabernet Sauvignon aged in a combination of American and French oak barrels for 8 to 12 months. The Cinsault was fermented and matured in concrete tanks.

The 2021 Chateau Libertas wine brims with blackcurrant, cherry, and wood spice on the nose and the palate, she says. You can drink it now with great pleasure, but you can also lay it down, confident that it will delight you decades from now. Available exclusively from Vinoteque, the 750ml retails for R450, while the magnums sell for R900 per bottle.

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