Stellenbosch is the most famous of South Africa’s wine regions and, with a history going back to the early 1700’s, Vergelegen is one its most long-established and celebrated wine estates. It was first created when the first governor of the Cape, Dutchman Adriaan van der Stel, took over a patch of wilderness and converted it into a prosperous farm.
How they developed
Over the centuries vine cultivation and winemaking has varied in importance depending on ownership at the time and for a large part of the 20th century there was no wine production. All that changed, however, in the late 1980s when Anglo American, the global mining conglomerate, bought the estate and subsequently invested heavily, building a new, sunken hilltop winery and carrying out extensive vineyard renovation and re-planting. The first harvest of the modern era was in 1992 and since then they’ve been on a steadily upward curve. Since 2022 winemaking has been headed up by Luke O'Cuinneagain succeeding the legendary André van Rensburg who has played such a large part in Vergelegen’s prominence in the current
century. Taken together Vergelegen’s current standing in the wine world is down to a combination of the financial strength of a large corporation coupled with the skills of an exemplary winemaking team.
A look at their wines
Classic French varieties are what they specialise in, and their Bordeaux blends are some of the best you’ll find in the southern hemisphere. We keep 3 examples on our shelves starting with their entry-level Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot 2017 which at just £13.90 (mixed 6) is a steal for such a well-made wine. The Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2017 coming in at just under £20 (mixed 6) is also superb value for money for such a mature, rich
and understated wine. And at the top-of-the-range we have the ‘V’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2014, £78.50 (mixed 6), which is wonderfully polished and refined and the equal of many an exalted left bank Claret. We also have two of their excellent whites. The Reserve Chardonnay 2021, £19.50 (mixed 6), is a complex and delicious oak aged wine, while the G.V.B. White Blend 2019, £31.50 (mixed 6) is a classy Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon combination which also mirrors the style of top-notch white Bordeaux. To round the range off we also keep half bottles of their Reserve Straw Wine 2021, £15.50 (mixed 6) which is a gloriously luscious, sweet wine and superb with creamy desserts.
French wine, in particular Bordeaux, has always been very influential in South African viticulture and to get a feel for how it’s developed in recent times, Vergelegen is one of the producers that you should be certainly looking at.
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