Music serenades the grapes at DeMorgenzon wine estate
“If music be the food of love, play on,” – or, in the case of DeMorgenzon, , you might say music is the food for growing and making exceptional wine.
The lines from Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night are fairly apt since the bard’s works were being written and performed in the dawn of the era of Baroque music – the classical works that serenade the vineyards of DeMorgenzon.
High up on the Stellenboschkloof slopes, with panoramic views stretching from Cape Town across to False Bay, the vineyards at 200-400m above sea level are the first in the valley to catch the morning sun – hence the name.
Across those slopes and in the winery and cellar, the strains of Baroque composers such as Bach, Handel and Vivaldi play 24/7, their mathematically ordered rhythms and melodic patterns believed to encourage healthier, more even growth.
“When we first experimented, the vines exposed to the music grew more slowly, but more evenly. As in cooking, slow is good – developing flavour complexity and intensity.
“Meanwhile, the early morning sun is gentler on the fruit and contributes to the delicate flavours and old world elegance of the wines,” says brand ambassador Richard de Almeida.
The music, the morning sun, the elevated slopes, and cellar master Carl van der Merwe’s hands-off approach – no pesticides or fertilisers for the vines, no commercial yeasts in the cellar – all work together to produce a multi-starred and internationally awarded range of wines.
Starting in the garden, the Garden Vineyards Rosé (around R90) is palest pink, very fresh and dry with crisp, juicy fruit and a touch of gentle florals and spice – “rosé for grown-ups” says Richard.
The Reserve wines are very grown-up indeed – the chenin twice a “best in the world” winner and Decanter magazine’s one of the 50 most exciting wines in the world, is a show-stopper – there’s no other word for it.
At around R400, a very grown-up price, but that’s what you pay for the respect and attention to detail given to 45-year-old vines and a wine natural fermented and aged in barrels.
The DMZ range offers a collection of “everyday” wines made in the estate’s signature style marrying “old world elegance with new world fruit freshness”, priced in the R100-ish bracket (and under R100 at Woolies).
There’s a chenin, of course, lightly wooded and aged on the lees for a few months, to make a wine that’s freshly fruity integrated with a touch of richness.
A long cool fermentation and extended time on the lees gives the sauvignon blanc an aromatic opening and fresh fruit with an edge of nettle, a balance of minerality and creaminess keeping acidity in check.
Delicate oak in the chardonnay adds rich ripeness to full-flavoured fruit with nuttiness and vanilla – a chardonnay-lover’s delight.
In the reds, the syrah totally over-delivers on its price tag around R130 – it’s lush, fragrant and generous, with warm fruit, layers of spice and florals, and a savoury touch, vigorous rather than over-blown – a sensory, sensual experience.
Savouriness really comes to the fore in the Grenache Noir – big ripe fruit, sour cherries and warm Christmassy spices, it’s bright and easy-drinking, and a win with Moroccan-style spices in food.
The DMZ’s are all single varietal wines, while the Maestro range gives winemaker Carl the space to play with blends.
There is the maiden 2015 Maestro Blue, a delicious blend of Rhone red varietals (Woolies has a similar one called DMZ Concerto); the rather block-busting Maestro Red, a bold and complex Bordeaux-style with spice, inky fruit and silky texture, and the Maestro White bold, complex and full-flavoured...