Winemaking’s hidden secrets revealedFebruary 1st, 2012 by Andrew Moth | Categories: beverages, industry, legal, people, restaurants, technology, tourism, training
The heritage and future of Zonnebloem wines were celebrated in Cape Town this week with a tasting of six vintages of the brand’s Cabernet Sauvignon wines – the oldest of which was made nearly 50 years ago.
Held at the Roundhouse, a historic restaurant with views of Camps Bay, the tasting was hosted by Duimpie Bayly, who has been associated with the Zonnebloem brand for 50 years, and Deon Boshoff, the cellarmaster responsible for recent vintages.
Among the guests were four producers who supply the grapes selected for Zonnebloem wines.
Bayly, who started at what was then Stellenbosch Farmers’ Winery as a laboratory assistant, entertained a group of food and wine writers with the secrets of winemaking in the 1960s when the addition of a “jemblik” of tartaric acid was normal practice.
In those days a South African cabernet sauvignon wine could have as little as 30% in the blend. Cinsaut made up much of the rest. Bayly pointed out that winemaking legislation and winemaking had changed a lot since, but he and Boshoff took pains to thank the growers for their contribution to establishing the reputation enjoyed then and now by Zonnebloem.
Commenting on the cellar’s three gold and four silver Veritas medals earned at the 2011 SA National Wine Show, global marketing manager for the brand Deidre Samson said micro-management of its grapes in the vineyards and cellar was yielding excellent results.
The three gold winners are all limited-edition wines: the 2009 Zonnebloem Limited Edition Cabernet Sauvignon and the 2011 vintages of the Limited Edition Chenin Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc. Limited-edition wines are made only in those vintages when the fruit is deemed to be of exceptional quality.
Silver medals went to the 2009 Limited Edition Shiraz and the 2011 Limited Edition Semillon, and to two wines from the mainstream Zonnebloem range: the 2009 Pinotage and the 2011 Sauvignon Blanc.
Zonnebloem’s viticulturist Annelie Viljoen sources from over 330 blocks mainly in Stellenbosch. Elize Coetzee makes the white wines, and Bonny van Niekerk the reds. Both work under the direction of Boshoff.
Zonnebloem’s history can be traced back to the late 17th century, when Willem van der Merwe, a Dutch immigrant, was granted land in 1692 by Governor Simon van der Stel.
Situated on the banks of the Great Berg River in Simondium, the property changed hands often. Frederik Furter bought Zonnebloem in 1893 and for the next few generations the family was closely tied to the history of the farm.
Frederik’s son, also Willem, established a reputation for producing wine of such excellence he succeeded in winning many prizes as well as export contracts. But at the very height of his career, just before the start of the harvest in 1940, he died and his 21-year-old daughter, Marie, stepped in to keep the farm going.
She had no formal training, but it was as if she was born to wine. Her maiden vintage earned three trophies at the 1940 Cape Wine Show, when she also distinguished herself by racking up the highest total score of any winemaker in the competition. In 1942, she won another three trophies at the Cape Wine Show and, once again, the highest number of points.
The picture above was taken in the 1940s.