Beyond the hard agricultural science behind wine-growing and making, winemakers have their own quirks and philosophies about how best to extract fine wines from the vineyards.
Serenading vines and wines with music may seem one of the strangest – but DeMorgenzon’s owners and winemaker are convinced the proof is in the bottle.
Given that the Stellenbosch estate is owned by power business couple Hylton and Wendy Appelbaum, one takes this “quirk” a little more seriously.
The Appelbaums are known as much for their business acumen as their extensive philanthropy and love of music, which led Hylton to found ClassicFM.
The positive effect of music on plants is mainly based on anecdotal evidence from enthusiastic gardeners, although a handful of research has pointed to sound energy – particularly harmonious or melodic music – as encouraging healthy plant growth.
The mathematical rhythms of Baroque music are thought to stimulate our brains, and so why not plants?
Early classical music are piped to DeMorgenzon’s vines and cellars 24/7, and winemaker Carl van der Merwe says he has seen the difference in slower and more regulated growth patterns of vines, and the quality of the wines.
While one does not (yet) find notes of Bach in the glass, the wines are certainly impressive and their range of Chenin Blanc’s shows how this varietal is staging a comeback as a serious South African wine. From the estate’s premium DMZ range, the 2014 Chenin (around R75) is rich, with a hint of butteriness and full of crisp fruit with a lingering aftertaste.
It’s got great complexity as a food partner but is approachable enough for easy drinking on a summer’s day.
The 2013 Reserve Chenin (about R200) takes the experience to an entirely different level.
This is serious stuff – a beautiful pale gold, creamy rich with a silky mouthfeel. Made from old vines and barrel-fermented, it opens with flowery-fruity aromas, with a hint of toast and honey from the oak, and delivers lush fruitiness with touches of spice, caramel and a slight mineral zing.
Slowly savour on its own, or pair with lightly spiced foods.
DeMorgenzon has recently crowned their range with a Chenin Blanc MCC (around R200 from the estate).
This bubbly stands out for taste and its elegantly opulent gold-and turquoise packaging.
It’s full of complex layers of flavour that develop and open up in the glass, from upfront dry citrus into lush pineapplepeach-honey notes, some typical biscuit and a crisp, dry finish.
In the words of Shakespeare: “If music be the food of love, play on!”