I had heard of and even tasted one or two of the Almenkerk range, but I had never been out to their estate. After our trip to Shannon we found ourselves driving through the winding Elgin roads toward the estate. On our arrival, we were met by a few dogs, some barrels lining the entrance to the tasting room and, Ruth. Every wine estate should have a “Ruth” She invited us in to the tasting room and for the next hour or so we chatted about wine, life, love, family and everything that makes my world revolve. The Almenkerk range is small but very powerful. The wines have clearly been made with much love, care and attention. Ruth had just spent the previous weekend entertaining wine lovers who had popped in for the Elgin Cool Wine and Country Festival. One other detail about the estate that touched us was the views. Wow, they seem to go on forever. When we left we took with us the memories of sipping some very special wines overlooking these views. Ruth, thank you for going the extra mile to make our visit so special.
Almenkerk Wine Estate is a true family Estate. It is owned by the Belgian/Dutch van Almenkerk family and run by Natalie and Joris van Almenkerk. While Joris has fun making the wine, Natalie is in charge of sales and marketing, PR and admin. Patriarch Joep helps out with sales, frequent wine tastings and as a mentor to the business side.
The Almenkerk Wine Cellar was constructed against the mountainside with wonderful views over the Elgin Valley and the Kogelberg Mountains. The winery consists of the Fermentation Cellar where the wine is made, the Maturation Cellar where the barrels are maturing our wines, two storage buildings and the tasting centre and offices where the wines are served.
DHK Urban Concepts designed the entire wine cellar with the help of Natalie where interior decoration was involved; and Joris’ input regarding the flow of the winemaking cellar. Fellow Belgian Dirk Vervaecke drew out the landscaping.
Their story began in 2002 when they moved to South Africa and started looking around for a farm with perfect terroir, cool climate and a nice place to live. Only late in their quest, when they were seriously considering a promising property in Stellenbosch – did a friend insist that they go “Over the Mountain” as they call it here and visit the Elgin Valley. Barely a week later sign signed the papers and they could call themselves the proud owners of an … apple farm!
Fast-forward a couple of years and they now have 15 ha of vines in production – and they are still enjoying 4 hectares of apples and pears. The decision of what to plant – and where to plant it – has been a project on its own. They used consultants and professors with a combined experience of over a century. On top of that, they based their choice on Infrared and satellite imagery, soil samples, and electromagnetic scans of the soil. The input of the previous owner and the labour that has been living on the farm since forever was also crucial in these decisions.
After some deep ripping of the soil, they planted the specific cultivars to their best-suited site. From there they have been nursing their vines into healthy grape producers. They use canopy management based on the latest research and employ precision viticulture to manage each vine separately rather than taking the bulk approach.
They have built an architecturally acclaimed winery and tasting facility.
Sauvignon Blanc 2014
This single-vineyard wine is crafted to be the ultimate expression of Elgin’s cool climate: Elegant, complex with a core of minerality. A true terroir wine, it offsets the typical green aromas of Sauvignon Blanc with the tropical tones of fully ripened fruit. Extended lees contact broadens the palate. Will reward cellaring for up to 5 years.
Alc 13.5% – pH 3.21 – TA 5.9 g/L – RS 2.8 g/L
A tribute to minimalist winemaking; natural settling after pressing, wild yeast fermentation in French barriques, maturing for 10 months on the lees. This enhances the mouth feel and gives multiple layers of complexity. This classic cool-climate Chardonnay is packed with citrus fruit and balanced by gentle wooding. Will reward cellaring for up to 5 years.
Alc 13.5% – pH 3.38 – TA 7.5 g/L – RS 4.2 g/L
Elgin’s high elevation and diurnal variation, with warm days and cool nights, allow for longer ripening time. This translates into complex aromas including dark cherry, blackberry and warm, earthy, spicy, slightly meaty notes. Aged for 24 months in exclusively French oak barrels. Elegantly structured, full-bodied palate. Supple texture with fruit concentration. Fine grained tannins and a long lingering finish. Will reward cellaring for up to 8 years.
Alc 14% – pH 3.50 – TA 6.2 g/L – RS 3.0 g/L
Lace Sauvignon Blanc 2014
An expression of the riper fruit in the vineyard. The wine is upfront fruity and floral, yet possesses the hallmark features of Elgin’s cool-climate Sauvignon blanc’s: an elegant structure with zesty and bell pepper notes, supported by a core of minerality. Have as an apéritif, with any fish dishes and try it with cheese.
Alc 13.5% – pH 3.20 – TA 5.4 g/L – RS 4.7 g/L
Lace Dry Rose 2015
Single-vineyard wine made from Cabernet Sauvignon grapes – picked earlier in order to get the vibrant fruit flavours – make up this dry, more serious rosé. Aromas of ripe raspberry and watermelon are complemented on the palate by a savory character. Great with salads, seafood, pork and slightly spicy dishes.
Alc 13% – pH 3.53 – TA 5.0 g/L – RS 1.1 g/L
Lace Vineyard Selection 2012
Syrah, Merlot, Cabernet franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Viognier aged for 23 months in French barriques. Natural acidity and purity of fruit – typical of Elgin’s cool terroir – make for an elegant wine with a lingering finish. Great with Carpaccio, Ossobuco and Pasta dishes.
Alc 13.5% ph. 3.34 TA 6.2 g/l RS 6.8 g/l
Tasting and Sales:
Summer: Wed- Sun 10h00-16h00
Winter: Tue-Sat 10-00-16h00
*Large groups, technical tastings and special requests: Please arrange before the time
Tel: +27 (0) 21 848 9844
Fax: +27 (0) 86 523 08 77
PO Box 1129
Adapted from the Estate Website http://www.almenkerk.co.za