Glenelly is a relative newcomer to the South African Wine scene, with Lady May-Éliane de Lencquesaing , owner/winemaker of Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande purchasing the blank canvas of the farm in 2003. Lady May is a formidable woman of whom everyone has an intriguing story to tell. She has travelled the world since she took over the Bordeaux property in 1978, and has made a wonderful success with her wines and made a distinctly positive impression on all those with whom she has connected. She is 91 and still going strong!
I met Lady May last year and she is both formidable and warm, with an incredible memory. Such an inspiration I found her to be, even in the short time I spent with her.
She has always involved her grandchildren in the wine business, and now two of them are involved, one of whom, Arthur de Lencquesaing, joined us at the launch and lunch. He has only joined the company recently, and still has a day job running an Art Auction house. He regaled us with stories of his travels where he meets people, even in remote places, who have independently developed a wonderful relationship with Lady May. She brought all over her grandchildren over 14 to South Africa in 1998 for the first time, so they have had a long-term relationship with the country. We were amused and delighted to hear that the grandchildren and Lady May all have a Whatsapp group which is very active. What a way to keep involved, even at 91!
Glenelly's new restaurant, has the acclaimed chef Christophe Lehosse at the helm.
Christophe is well-known to those in the winelands, and will continue to run the Joostenberg Bistro where he has been for many years. This has been a relationship a long time in the making and looks good to last well into the future.
Luke O’Cuinneagain is the winemaker and has been there since inception. He tells the delightful story of Lady May inviting him for dinner in France at the beginning of their relationship and she then opened a bottle of 1873 Château Lafite Rothschild, which, at over 100 years old, was stunning! This, she said, is what she would like him to strive for in the long run for the Glenelly top wines, like their Lady May. No pressure!
The new tasting room is above the restaurant with sweeping views of their vineyards and the Simonsberg.
Luke took us through a tasting of their wines - starting with their Glass Collection, very well priced at R90 per bottle. I really liked their appealing labels, and was pleased to see the back label having clear images of the flavour profiles you can expect in their wines. A simple and innovative way to communicate this.
We ended off with the Reserve Collection and the Lady May - which was most delicious, and it has more than enough structure to have many years of ageing ahead of it, so it seems Luke is on the right track!
Our table was quite fussy, so we all had a taste of quite different menus, from Tuna to Silverfish to Asparagus.. The view is really stunning and we had one of those really hot days which are rather languid. The delicious lunch was paired with the wines were enjoyed by all. Only one white in the list - and we had both Unoaked and Oaked.. and I must say - I am not a Chardonnay fan, but really loved the freshness of the unoaked Chard.
The Glass Collection which Lady May is passionate about was not open as building renovations were not quite complete, so I will have to return to view it - as Glass is one of my favourte art forms.
See you on the patio at Glenelly!