The Maria’s grapes hail mainly from the farm’s very special “Weisser (riesling) on the Hill” vineyard that are blended with nearby Sauvignon blanc grapes. The vines have weathered the passing seasons on this exposed outcrop for some 25 years, their roots deeper in the soil than many of their peers and stems thick and gnarled with age. Their fruit is unlike any other.
It is here that a rare, natural marvel brings about a transformation. In a slow and invisible swirl, the magic emerges from just the right amounts of cooling ocean mist, temperature and light. The condition known as Botrytis Cinerea is awakened and with it, the pathway to that most entrancing of wines - the Maria Noble Late Harvest.
No wine of this calibre should bear an ordinary name and so the Maria came to be. Although the history of Neethlingshof dates back to 1692, it was many years later that Maria Magdalena Marais settled on the land. She was a resourceful and feisty young widow who took over the building of the estate’s manor house after the death of her husband, Charles, in 1813. This and many of her other contributions on this beacon of South African wine can still be seen and felt to this day.
As a result, the Neethlingshof Maria is now an anchor in the estate’s signature Short Story Collection of wines. The collection showcases the many diverse histories and contributions woven into the fabric of Neehtlingshof.
The wine’s 2016 vintage that collected the most recent gold medal shines with concentrated aromas of fruit cake, honey and marmalade. On the palate, a fine balance of sugar and acid gently sustain its freshness and fruitiness.
“Its achievements at Michelangelo International Wine & Spirit Awards are particularly significant,” says Neethlingshof winemaker, De Wet Viljoen. “The competition fields entrants and a panel of judges from across the world. This means wines that do well here are well aligned with an international palate and style.”
This year saw the 20th anniversary of the competition, whose results were announced at a gala dinner in Somerset West last Monday. Judges included wine authorities from amongst others Hong Kong, the UK, Italy, Denmark, France, Canada and Brazil. A record 1 829 wines were entered this year, among them 42 foreign producers. Just 670 wines came away with awards.
The achievement follows only weeks after Neethlingshof’s stellar performance at the International Wine and Spirit Competition (IWSC), where every one of its wines entered received medals while two were among the competition’s highest scorers. It was at this event that the judges singled out its Owl Post Pinotage 2014 – another member of the Neethlingshof Short Story Collection – for the Abraham Perold Trophy for Pinotage.
Neethlingshof Wine Estate lies in the heart of the Stellenbosch Winelands and is flanked by the Bottelary Hills and Papegaaisberg Mountains. It has more than a dozen distinguishable terroirs that allows grape varieties to be matched perfectly with the best soil, aspect and climatic conditions.
This understanding is born only as it can - of the farm’s 300-year heritage and a custodial respect for the land itself.
Not only steeped in history, the estate is distinguished by the beautiful avenue of stone pines and its membership of the Biodiversity & Wine Initiative (BWI) with land set aside for conservation.
Neethlingshof’s champion wines – including the Neethlingshof Maria 2016 gold medal winner – are available for purchase online at www.vinoteque.co.za.
For more information on Neethlingshof’s extensive wine range and other offerings, visit www.neethlingshof.co.za. Stay up to date with the latest events on the estate by visiting Neethlingshof on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/neethlingshof.