Lanzerac and Stellenbosch Royalty

I am standing 400m up on a mountain overlooking the town of Stellenbosch, Table Mountain lurking in the distance. The steep slopes are covered with vines, as are those on the other side of the Jonkershoek Valley. Directly below, the white-washed old buildings of Lanzerac hotel and winery sparkle in the midday sun. I brace myself for the wine maker’s viticulture insights, notebook poised for words on soil types, harvest yields, vine-spacing and average daytime temperatures.

“Over there,” says the wine maker, Wynand Lategan, pointing away from the vineyards to the town. “That’s where I was born, right there in Stellenbosch Hospital.”

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Time for Super Pinotages has Come

Quietly, the new category of Super Pinotages is causing a ripple through the incoming tide of things offered by Brand South Africa. Not everyone – present company excluded – is convinced that Pinotage can bear the torch as the nation’s grape: that sought-after focused ray of light, in clarity unmatched by any wine country, that cuts through the wad of global vinous offerings and makes universal consumers sit up and say, “Oh, that is South Africa in a glass, and we all like it. What a great piece of the wine world that neck of the woods must be.”

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The General and the English Missus

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Drooling with history, heritage, culture and all those x-factors classic wine industry marketing requires, Stellenbosch’s Lanzerac brand keeps a relatively low profile. Its setting at the beginning of the Jonkershoek valley is majestic. History goes back to 1692. Aesthetically the Cape Dutch “Prag-en-Praal” hotel and winery is crisply colonial enough to have a UCT pink liberal itching for his dung-bucket. And colourful moments in Lanzerac’s wine legacy include its name as the first ever Pinotage bottling anywhere, circa 1959.

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