It’s all change at Remhoogte, the Simonsberg property owned by Murray Boustred and family. The partnership with high-profile consultant Michel Rolland dating from2001 was terminated earlier this year, and the Boustreds are going to market with an overhauled range.
Flagship during the Rolland years was an ambitious Pinotage blend called Bonne Nouvelle but Boustred admits this was a slow-mover. Both the 2003 and 2004 are currently on the market (at R165 a bottle from the farm) while the 2005 through 2007 sit in stock. The arrangement is that Rolland will market this label internationally in the future.
Boustred’s son Chris, who graduated with a BSc in Viticulture and Oenology from Stellenbosch University from 2004, worked side by side in the cellar with a Rolland-appointed French winemaker during the 2007 harvest and took over completely in 2008.
Top of the Remhoogte range now becomes a Merlot Reserve, the maiden 2007 set for release in July. Boustred says that Rolland’s original involvement in South Africa was through Rupert & Rothschild, which used to buy grapes from Remhoogte and it was the quality of Merlot as grown at Remhoogte that caught his eye in the first place.. That the man who made his reputation on the Right Bank of Bordeaux was so impressed with Remhoogte’s version of the quintessential Right Bank grape was more than enough motivation to attempt an ultra-premium version.
Grapes come from the best rows of a 1.8 ha vineyard, 12 years old and southwest facing. Boustred Jnr explains that a “massive” green harvest is carried out (to help even ripeness) while subsequent to picking, sorting tables are used to remove all inappropriate material.
In the cellar, the wine is fermented in 500l open-top fermenters. This allows a lot more oxygen than usual to be involved in the process, facilitating softer tannins and fuller mouthfeel. “When it comes to aeration during ferment, I go for broke,” says Boustred. It then spent 22 months in 100% oak.
Selling price will be around R200 a bottle, and it has to be said it is brave to enter a market with such an grand offering when the reputation of local Merlot is at its lowest ebb, at least among informed observers. It’s pretty convincing, however, showing good fruit concentration and prominent but not discordant oak.