A Look Back at 2021
Season’s Greetings from the De Grendel family! To you and yours, we wish a blessed, safe and happy festive season of celebration and rejuvenation together.
At De Grendel we have much to celebrate as we look back on another challenging year, so much so that it is difficult to single out just one highlight.
Cellar master Charles Hopkins and his team continued on their path of consistent excellence, with one of the clearest indicators being five-star ratings for four De Grendel wines in the 2022 Platter’s South African Wine Guide for the second year running. This included a third consecutive five-star rating for Elim Shiraz (the ’17, ’18 and ’19 vintages have now all achieved 5* ratings).
Elim Shiraz 2019 also enabled De Grendel to make history, achieving 98 points in the 2021 Veritas Awards, the highest score ever awarded to a wine in South Africa’s highly-respected and longest-running wine competition.
The especially exciting aspect for me is the success of our exploration and pioneering of new winemaking areas in unique micro-climates, from the cool maritime climate of Elim near the southern tip of Africa to the high-altitude Op Die Berg vineyards on the Ceres plateau.
Shiraz/Syrah is a particular favourite of Charles, because of its distinctive sense of place, showing so clearly the influence of different terroir in its style and flavour profiles, as a comparative tasting of our De Grendel Shiraz, Elim Shiraz and Op Die Berg Syrah readily illustrates.
It’s testimony to the distinctive quality obtained from the Op Die Berg (literally, “on the mountain”) vineyards in the Witzenberg mountains near Ceres, where our family has been farming fruit for generations. Almost a kilometre above sea level and 140km inland from the west coast, this is one of South Africa’s few truly continental climates. Far removed from moderating ocean influences, the vineyards are often blanketed by snow in winter, allowing the vines to rest and recover in deep dormancy before the growing season when the sharp contrast of warm days and cool nights results in slower ripening and more concentrated fruit.
Op Die Berg Syrah is a remarkable wine – elegant and complex, fragrant and fresh with clear white pepper and leafy, herbal flavours – a worthy addition to the cellar for enjoyment now, or rewarding maturation over the next decade.
Op Die Berg Chardonnay 2020 brought more delight to the team, winning both the Best Chardonnay Trophy and the overall White Wine Trophy in the 2021 Old Mutual Trophy Wine Show, one of only eight wines to achieve the highest score of 97 points in this year’s show.
All three of our different expressions of shiraz/syrah (De Grendel Shiraz 2019, Elim Shiraz 2019 and Op Die Berg Syrah 2019) achieved over 90-point scores in the Winemag.co.za 2021 Shiraz Report, with a Top 10 place for the Elim Shiraz, making it five Top 10 places for De Grendel wines in the Winemag varietal reports issued through the year.
At the De Grendel home farm in Durbanville, guided farm tours and picnics have been a popular attraction for visitors looking to escape into our rural setting in the middle of suburban Cape Town – enjoying an introduction to the history of De Grendel and viewing the wild game that inhabit our farm conservancy.
The tour of course includes a stop to enjoy the magnificent views over Table Bay to Table Mountain from Proposal Hill, the spot where my grandfather proposed to my grandmother in 1939, the romantic story that lends its name to our Proposal Hill Brut Rosé. It’s a Cap Classique perfect for sunsets, romantic proposals, weddings and celebrations of all kinds – and has done us proud too, earning 4.5 Platter’s stars in its maiden 2016 vintage.
Two of our staff members who unfortunately lost their jobs due to the impact of Covid-19 on our operations, have been re-employed to drive an innovative upcycling project in partnership with De Grendel. The Ostentatious Oyster transforms discarded oyster shells from our partner Knysna Oyster Co into beautiful decoupaged décor items in our favourite blue-and-white china patterns, like those seen in the De Grendel restaurant. The products are available to purchase at the De Grendel tasting room, and also online – do have a look as they make lovely, and distinctive, gifts.
A sincere thank you to you, our loyal patrons for your continued support and appreciation of De Grendel; to Charles and the cellar and vineyard teams for their dedicated pursuit of excellence; to chef Ian Bergh and the De Grendel restaurant team for their passion for delighting our customers; and to all who make De Grendel an outstanding experience and share our commitment to a sustainable future for this special place.
We look forward to welcoming you to De Grendel soon.