Distell owns the Winelands


An amazing Daily Mail trip through the Winelands reported yesterday with every single destination visited by intrepid vino tourist Chris Hall (below) a Distell property. Terroir talks, bullshit walks, as they say in Franschhoekfranschhoekcellarwines Distell owns the Winelands
by franschhoekwines
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ch Distell owns the Winelands

“After a couple of days in Cape Town, Stellenbosch was where we headed next – into the heart of wine country. The previous night we had visited Durbanville Hills, a winery on the outskirts of Cape Town – worth it for the panoramic sunset view alone, not to mention the 2011 Shiraz and 2008 Caapmans Cabernet Shiraz Merlot which stood out from our tasting. But our introduction to South African wines was just beginning.

Just a couple of minutes out of Stellenbosch is Neethlingshof, a grand colonial-style estate where private tastings take place in a musty brick cellar and the standout wines were a 2012 Malbec, and this year’s Noble Late Harvest – a sweet wine made with grapes that have already begun to ferment on the vine.

In Stellenbosch itself is the Bergkelder – literally, ‘mountain cellar’ – a huge winery and cellar that takes grapes from across the Cape, also storing grapes from the smaller vineyards around. It’s one of the best places to buy wine – nearly every other vineyard we visited was represented in the shop, and most prices hover between £5 and £15 a bottle – for very drinkable wines.

At one end of the spectrum are vineyards like Plaisir de Merle – so quiet, unassuming and peaceful it could be Wiltshire (except for the calm revelation that the security cameras had picked up a leopard the night before). At the other end is J C Le Roux – prize-winning sparkling wine specialists whose restaurant and tasting room are more TOWIE than Downton Abbey. That said, the Pongracz holds its own against European fizz, at half the price.

The penultimate day saw us rise early to drive from the hotel to the Grootbos nature reserve, which also holds – you guessed it – another vineyard. We were met at Lomond vineyard, by owner Wayne Gabb, who has, among other things, flown helicopters through UN conflict zones, and is also a trout farmer and property developer. His white wines were some of the best we tried, and had the advantage of being enjoyed with Grootbos unspoilt ocean views.

The trip culminated with a visit to the Nederburg vineyard – very much a case of saving the best ’til last. Nederburg is one of the grandest and most established wine producers of the Western Cape region, dating back to 1800.

Approach the uphill driveway and you immediately get the impression you’re visiting somewhere a bit different – the thatched manor house imposes itself over the vines from half a mile away. Every year, Nederburg hosts South Africa’s largest wine auction, which attracts buyers and experts from all over the world, and sees vintage bottles or cases fetch astronomical prices.

We were lucky enough to try wines from across the range, including the prestigious Winemaster’s Reserve Merlot. Of particular interest were the Heritage Heroes wines – each one named after a key figure in the vineyard’s history, from The Motorcycle Marvel to The Young Airhawk. The names might sound gimmicky if your idea of a decent red includes words like ‘chateau’ or ‘domaine’ but they are serious wines.

My favourite was the Motorcycle Marvel, named for Nederburg winemaker Gunter Brozel, who always surveyed the vines by motorbike as a young man – and is best known for introducing the idea of late noble harvest dessert wines to South Africa. It’s a Shiraz-Cinsault-Mourvedre blend that’s rich and peppery.” Which makes it 7/7 for Distell destinations.

Is the editor of the Daily Mail aware that every single property mentioned is either owned or co-owned by Distell or has their marketing handled by Cape Legends? Comments on the feature are already closed with zero posted, so its hard to see whether its undeclared advertorial or a lucky break for Distell. I agree with Chris that these wines are both excellent quality and excellent value but if the trip was either paid for or arranged by the brands featured without disclosing this, the whole thing falls as flat as a bottle of last year’s Cape Riesling. It’s called credibility, chaps.

Distell is way better than paying for undeclared advertorial in UK red tops. These are not the marketing strategies employed by a company whose share price on the JSE reaches new historic highs every day.