Zandvliet Wine Estate straddles the Cogmans River, with the great Langeberg Mountains throwing a giant arm around it from the north and disappearing to the south-east. A small range of low limestone hills lie on Zandvliet’s southern half, bringing the special magic to its kalkveld (calcareous earth) terroir. Only 130 kilometres due south is the southernmost point of Africa, Cape Agulhas, dynamo of the breezes that cool our hills in summer.
Zandvliet was proclaimed as a 5000-hectare farm in 1838, along with the rest of the Robertson district at that time, being granted to a Van Zyl and a Balthazar Kloppers. Jacobus Stephanus de Wet bought the property in 1867. Upon his death, the farm was subdivided into Zandvliet, Prospect and Excelsior, with Paul de Wet buying the family farm from his eldest brother. Today, almost 180 years later, ANB Investments (also known for the well-loved ClemenGold mandarin brand) is the proud custodian of this magnificent heritage. Although always a wine farm, Zandvliet was also famous for its racehorse-breeding stud and produced the famed racehorse Pocket Power – according to those in the know: ‘a horse that has changed the face of South African horse racing history’.
Zandvliet is clearly benefiting from its turnaround strategy under leadership of winemaker Jacques Cilliers following the ANB Investments group’s acquisition of the estate early in 2015. While some of the low producing vineyards have had to make place for citrus plantings, exciting new wine cultivars are being established to augment the farm’s strong Shiraz heritage.
The magical key to our success lies locked within the soils of Zandvliet. Known as calcareous Karoo, with a red clay underlay, dotted with pockets of chalky limestone, this is what we call kalkveld, and it’s the driving force behind our classical wines. Firm acidity, concentrated flavours and mineral traces are delicately managed from vineyard to cellar. Our Hill of Enon wines, derived from a very special block on the estate, is an ancient geologically anomalous rocky outcrop with limestone patches dating back to the Upper Jurassic period. This piece of history is drinkable in our Hill of Enon Shiraz and Chardonnay wines.
Tim Atkin, an award-winning wine writer, co-chairman of the International Wine Challenge and Master of Wine recently visited our valley, as part of his South African wine tour in preparation of his 2016 SA Special Report South African Wine Report. After having tasted some 1400 wines, Tim awarded the Zandvliet Kalkveld Shiraz 2014 (the farm’s flagship wine) with no less than 91 points. A score of more than 90 earns a wine Tim’s Medal of Excellence. Atkin’s sentiment regarding the Kalkveld was mirrored by the judges of the Old Mutual Wine Awards with a silver medal.
Zandvliet’s 2016 harvest of accolades also includes two silver Veritas medals for the Kalkveld Shiraz 2014 and the Zandvliet Estate Shiraz 2014. The Zandvliet Estate Shiraz 2013 is equally popular, earning a gold medal from the judges of Vitis Vinifera, a consumer-driven competition. Wines are blind-tasted by a panel of judges each in possession of a Cape Wine Academy certificate or similar qualification.
Although Zandvliet is synonym to Shiraz, two of its white wines have also found favour: the Zandvliet Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2015 won a gold SA Woman Wine Award (judged by female wine lovers), while the Zandvliet Estate Chardonnay 2016 was also graced with a Vitis Vinifera gold medal.
Zandvliet’s special relationship with Shiraz will continue as part of the estates wine making strategy. “We are currently planting more Shiraz on the farm: this year 4ha and next year another 15ha,” says winemaker Jacques Cilliers. “In order to produce a Rhone-style blend with Shiraz, Mouvedre, Grenache, Carignan, Counoise and Terret Noir, we’ll also be establishing these cultivars during 2017. I’m also considering a planting of Chenin Blanc on one of our southern slopes where the wind blows almost continuously.”