From legendary characters and family history, to an obsession with Shiraz, to wine and the art of good living, the stories behind the labels add their own flavour to the enjoyment of wine.
The Melck family of Muratie in Stellenbosch does a great job of preserving and celebrating the heritage of the 330-year-old farm, where every nook and cranny of the historic buildings under their gnarled oaks is packed with historic artefacts, and each of their wines is named for one of the many characters who have shaped its history.
The current Melcks are direct descendants of Martin Melck, one of the Cape’s great landowners and farmers. He bought Muratie for his daughter in 1763, and it stayed in the family for more than 100 years until 1897.
Almost a century later, Ronnie Melck brought Muratie back into the family fold. Another legendary Cape wine figure, he was known for his unerring palate (he could apparently taste a wine blind and tell you what year it was made and from which slope) and instinctive flair for wine-making.
He revived Muratie, laying the foundation for what it is today – making wines that in his words are “humble, honest and full of integrity” – character reflected in his namesake Ronnie Melck Shiraz.
Made for savouring now, or ageing up to 10 years, the 2013 vintage is silky smooth with lots of pepper on the nose, dark and fruity layered with subtle spiciness and wood, all beautifully balanced and integrated (about R140).
The Isabella Chardonnay 2015 is named for Ronnie’s granddaughter Isabella, daughter of Muratie’s current custodian, Rijk Melck. Beautiful name for a beautiful wine, and the back label tells the story of the Melck’s love for their baby daughter, christening the nine months matured Chardonnay for her.
And the wine? It’s as Chardonnay should be – from the nose of orange blossom, nuttiness and caramel, to the rich, creamy palate cut through with the zest of citrus and a mineral saltiness, and a finish to savour (about R145).
Over the mountains to Franschhoek, half-an-hour brings you firmly into the 21st century at Maison, the stylish contemporary home, restaurant and wine farm created just 11 years ago by Chris Weylandt, owner of the Weylandts interior stores.
Much like the stores, here it’s all about sleek Scandinavian-style minimalism (reflected in the clean label design) combined with a back-to-nature feel and Weylandts’ globally-sourced traditional crafted décor pieces.
They’ve just released their 2014 Chardonnay, made from a tiny 0.8ha block by winemaker Antwan Bondesio and not far wrong in its description of “sunshine in a glass”. Matured and aged in small oak barrels for around six months, it’s a lovely balance of the dark sweetness of butterscotch and freshness of lime, some vanilla from the oak clear but not intrusive.
As the label suggests “to be enjoyed from sunrise to sunset, but best saved for the company of good friends when the wine flows as freely as the conversation” (R180 from the estate).