Benguela Cove Lagoon Wine Estate hosted a wine treasure hunt on Friday, 5 April to launch two new ranges that have joined the stable under leadership of winemaker, Johann Fourie. Visitors were treated to a preview of the new vintages of Benguela Cove Estate Wines, as well as the Vinography range and their flagbearer, the Catalina Semillon 2017.
The Benguela Cove Estate Wines include Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec and a Bordeaux-style Blend. Their classic Joie de Vivre MCC, made from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, was joined in December 2018 by Cuvee58, Benguela Cove’s first Méthode Cap Classique made from Sauvignon Blanc.
Johann readily admits that he enjoys experimenting, pushing the boundaries and doing things that people say can’t be done. For
starters, he describes Benguela Cove’s location – close to the ocean and battered by winds – as “the textbook place not to grow vines”. It turns out Johann delights in straying from the textbook and, with four different soil types and 12 different varietals from various clones planted in site-specific blocks, he says the estate provides “an amazing diversity for a winemaker to work with”.
However, one clearly needs to know the rules before one can break them. During his 10 years with KWV in Paarl, Johann accumulated a seemingly endless string of local and international accolades and awards, among them the 2016 Diner’s Club Winemaker of the Year, both the General Smuts and Pietman Hugo trophies at the 2015 Young Wine Show and a record number of gold and double gold Veritas awards.
By 2016, he was ready to trade the corporate environment of the leading KWV wine brand to settle with his family in Hermanus and start a new chapter as head winemaker of this boutique wine estate on the edge of the Bot River Lagoon.
While the Benguela Cove Estate Wines will always remain centre stage, the new Vinography range, made in very small quantities, represents the knowledge accumulated over the years to make wines that represent the unique terroir.
“The vines are now between 12 and 16 years old and have adapted well to the marginal conditions,” Johann says enthusiastically. “Winemaking is an ongoing process. One can never become complacent and one always needs to investigate the road less travelled. It is important for me to challenge the status quo, to colour outside the lines and try new things outside my comfort zone. This is what Vinography is all about.”
The three wines in the Vinography range are Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Petit Verdot. Only a few hundred bottles of the 2017 vintage of each was produced, making these exquisite wines real collectors’ items.
The crowning glory of the morning’s tasting, which was preceded by breakfast canapés and followed by a cellar tour and lunch at the Moody Lagoon Restaurant, was the Catalina Semillon 2017. Produced from a single vineyard, this “flag bearer for what is possible at the Benguela Cove Estate” is a wine that represents exceptional quality and longevity. Awarded five stars by Platter’s SA Wine Guide, it is only sold in sets of three.
The label depicts an RAF Catalina flying boat landing on the lagoon, honouring the history etched on the land where the estate today stands. During World War II the lagoon was used as a base from which, guided by the nearby radar stations at Cape Hangklip and Betty’s Bay, the pilots engaged U-boats along the coast. Of the fourteen soldiers stationed at the base, three returned to marry South African women.
Against this backstory, the Catalina Semillon tells its own, unique wine story. To find out more, go to www.benguelacove.co.za or visit the tasting room on the R43.