Stellenbosch sits at the foot of the Cape Fold Mountains range, some 50 kilometres west of Cape Town. Snow-capped in winter, those sharp-peaked mountains help bring the rain for wet, cold winters and cooling mountain breezes during the hot, dry summers. When French Huguenot migrants arrived in the 1690s, they recognised the light sandy to degraded granite soils perfect for growing grapes. Today, Stellenbosch is a region of white-washed Dutch Cape buildings sitting in rows of vines, a place where tradition meets modern winemaking and care for the land.
Stellenbosch is still dominated by family wineries who maintain quality with their understanding of everything from vineyard management, to harvesting and blending. One of the most famous wineries is Kaapzicht, owned by the Steytler family since 1946. After spending years working in wineries in New Zealand, France, Italy and California, fourth-generation Steytler, Danie Jnr, returned to the family business to take over the role of winemaker. He works with the grapes grown in the unirrigated vineyards, with yields as low as 5 tonnes per hectare. The vines produce full flavoured grapes that ripen in the warm north-west facing vineyards. Kaapzicht means ‘cape view’ in Dutch, with Cape Town and the Atlantic coast in clear view in the distance. The ocean breeze cools the vineyard, especially at night, allowing the development of acid, essential to good structure in the wine.
Kaapzicht was once known mainly for its white wine, but Stellenbosch reds, particularly pinotages, have become popular recently. Pinotage is a South African grape created by crossing the cool climate pinot noir with the more heat-tolerant cinsault. It produces wines with smoky, blackberry aromas and earthy flavours. The Kaapzicht pinotage takes this a step further with berry and dark plum notes, cherry and mulberry. With the distinctive flavour of a wine that could only have been made in the vineyards of Stellenbosch, it’s the perfect partner for beef and lamb dishes.
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