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7th Wine: Welmoet Pinotage

  • Located in Stellenbosch, the farm of Welmoed was first granted to Governor Simon van der Stel in 1690
  • Simon van der Stel’s eldest son, Willem Adriaan van der Stel, succeeded him as Governor.
  • He developed Vergelegen estate with VOC finances without the knowledge of the Board of Directors in Holland.
  • He built a house and planted over half a million vines, large orchards and maize fields. He stocked the farm with 800 cattle and 10 000 sheep. The fact that he, the governor, had to sanction all purchases of supplies for a visiting fleet of the VOC, allowed him to favour his products before others.
  • This brought him into conflict with other farmers.
  • Most of these farmers were ex-mercenaries, and killing was their profession.  They used to steal Vergelegen’s cattle and sheep.
  • There was therefore a conflict of interests – the Governor calling the farmers ‘criminals’, which they were, and them naming the Governor ‘a crook’, which he was.
  • A petition was drafted, signed by these raiding farmers and sent directly to the Board of Directors at their VOC headquarters in Amsterdam, requesting that the Governor be replaced.
  • The petition was rejected.  The leaders of the farmers were arrested and issued an ultimatum – either they make out a new declaration to the Board with an apology plus a second issue praising the Governor, or he would hang them.
  • The rebels quickly agreed, all except Jacobus van der Heyden, who replied: ‘Hang and be damned! I will not change anything that I wrote about you,’ whereupon the Governor had him imprisoned in the dungeons of the Castle.
  • As time went by, the doctor warned the Governor that van der Heyden’s health was deteriorating, that he would most certainly die if not released, and that this would result in the farmers having a martyr to fire up their rebellion.  Others would join their cause, which would have definite repercussions in Holland.
  • Therefore Willem Adriaan van der Stel released Van der Heyden. On hearing this news, the sentiment around the Cape was: “Deze vent heeft  wel moed” which translates to “This chap does have courage”.
  • A charming medium to full bodied wine with a vivid ruby-red colour. Raspberry and ripe fruit on the nose. Ripe mulberry fruit palate with elegant tannin and soft fruity finish. Well integrated oak aromas complement a well-balanced wine.
  • A little bit about the pinotage grape: It was bred in S.A. in 1925 by Abraham Izak Perold as a cross between Pinot noir and Cinsaut (Cinsaut was known as Hermitage in South Africa during that time, hence the port-man-teau name of Pinotage). The first wine was made in 1941.
  • A group of British Masters of Wine visiting in 1976 were unimpressed by Pinotage, calling the nose “hot and horrible” and comparing the taste to “rusty nails”.
  • However towards the end of the 20th century, the grape’s fortunes began to turn, and by 1997 it commanded higher prices than any other South African grape.
  • French oak staves for approximately 8 months.
  • Tasting Note: Raspberry, cherry and mulberry characterise the fruit profile, while the variety’s trademark earthy, smoky aromas are delivered with subtlety. Tannins are soft and balanced by snappy acidity.
  • Try with red or white meaths, preferably roasted or chargrilled, with flavoursome roasted vegetabled. Also apparently Oxtail makes an ideal food partner for this wine.
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