The four wines in Neethlingshof’s Short Story Collection do something a little more than bring the drinker joy – they each, through their labels, tell a story of the wine farm they come from. Whether that story is of the heritage of the two centuries-old farm, or of initiatives they’ve undertaken in the present day to make the farm more sustainable, they each represent an important facet of Neethlingshof today and help to showcase the estate’s respect for both its past and its future.
“We’d always known the beautiful story of the six flowers on the gable of the manor house and then we realised that we had six white wine varietals on the farm,” explains De Wet Viljoen, cellar master of Neethlingshof. In 1814, work on Neethlingshof’s landmark manor house was completed by Maria Magdalena Marais, the young widow of Charles Marais who bought the property in 1788. Charles passed away before seeing the completed manor house, but after he died Maria continued to plough her efforts into the estate, later adding more land and vines before selling the estate to her son-in-law Johannes Henoch Neethling. The six flowers on the gable were added by Maria in 1814, and represent herself and her five daughters. The Six Flowers is comprised of Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Viognier, Gewürztraminer and Weisser Riesling.
Named after the owl posts erected to attract owls to the farm, this Pinotage is a personal favourite of winemaker De Wet Viljoen, who is the vice chairman of the Pinotage Association. The wine has won numerous awards, with the Owl Post 2014 being awarded the coveted Abraham Perold Trophy for Pinotage 2016 at the International Wine & Spirit Competition (IWSC) as well as a Gold Outstanding, which denotes a score of 93 and above what judges rate as “quality of the highest order”.
The eco-sensitive approach that brought the owl to Neethlingshof also brought the elusive caracal back to the farm. Marginal vineyards on the farm have been uprooted and restored to indigenous vegetation to allow for natural wilderness corridors – today just 185 hectares of the estate’s 470 hectares are under vineyard. Numerous indigenous birds call the tracts of endangered renosterveld plantations on the farm home, which in turn has drawn the predator cat to the area. The caracal is celebrated in this Bordeaux-style blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Merlot.
Lastly, The Maria honours the woman who started it all – Maria Magdalena Marais. This sublime Noble Late Harvest, redolent with dried apricots and honey, is made with Weisser Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc grapes. It recently received 93 points from Tim Atkin in his annual review of South African wine, and deservedly so.
For more information, visit Neethlingshof’s website