Stellenbosch Hills, founded as Vlottenburg co-operative in 1945, launched a biltong and wine pairing experience at the cellar in 2006 (an idea so good it has subsequently been copied by Durbanville Hills and KWV) and this was followed by the Biltong Maker of the Year competition in 2008. With Freddy Hirsch, South Africa’s foremost spice suppliers to the meat industry, signed up as sponsor this year, the competition is set to be bigger than ever with R60 000 worth of prizes to be won. For full details, see here.
Yesterday a lesson in biltong making courtesy of the Freddy Hirsch in-house butcher Elize De Witt yesterday, followed by a chance to try the current release Stellenbosch Hills wines. Cellarmaster PG Slabbert oversees grapes from 16 contributing farms and processes some 8 000 tons per year, the equivalent of five million litres. Of this, 85% is sold to Distell , 10% to export company Baarsma and a mere 5% ends up under own label.
Polkadraai, the wines complete with polka dot capsules, is the cellar’s entry level offering. The 2011 white, a blend of 70% Chenin Blanc and 30% Sauvignon Blanc, is clean and fresh and particularly good value at R26 a bottle (score: 14.5/20); the 2010 red, a blend of 70% Pinotage and 30% Merlot, is fruity and soft, an obvious chocolate note sure to give it popular appeal. No great shakes (score: 14/20) but easily affordable at R30 a bottle.
The 1707 Reserve White 2009 is a blend of 70% Chardonnay, 20% Semillon and 10% Viognier, which spent 10 months in 300-litre French oa , 100% new. I founded it totally overdone, the oak way too prominent. Score: 14.5/20. Price per bottle: R60.
The 1707 Reserve Red 2008, however, is much more accomplished. A blend of 50% Shiraz, 28% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Merlot and 11% Petit Verdot, it spent 18 months in all-new oak, 60% French and 40% American. Medium bodied and well balanced, it shows red and black fruit as well as spice. Old fashioned in the best possible sense and with an extraordinarily low ph of 3.28 it should provide good drinking for a while yet. Score: 16/20. Price per bottle: R80.