The historical Natte Valleij Farm situated at the foot of the Simonsberg is not a new cellar, it’s just been resting for the last 50 years.
Famed for its brandy in years gone by, it was one of the largest cellars in the area, but sadly winemaking ceased in the 50’s. It was bought by the Milner Family in the late 60’s and for 27 years it bred some of South Africa’s finest racehorses.
It was in 2005, that wine was once again made on the farm and the sound of barrels rolling could be heard. We pride ourselves in keeping things traditional, like it was done in the 50’s, when wine was last made at Natte Valleij. Grapes are pick by hand, bottled by hand, corked by hand, labeled by hand and most defiantly drunk by hand. It’s a family affair and everyone is pulled in at busy times.
Winemaker Alexander Milner strives to make wine with minimal interference and pretence, merely guiding beautiful grapes into character full wines -preserving the intrinsic link between grape and bottle.
The Natte Valleij Cinsault Collective is a culmination of my explorations of The Cape Winelands. Seeking out forgotten patches of old dryland bush vine Cinsault that I felt would offered exceptional quality and interest. These old vines have always fascinated me by their dogged persistence to exist. Using sympathetic winemaking practise I hope these four wines speak loader than words in expressing the dynamic Cape.
These bush vines planted on decomposed granite in 1993 face North-West in the lee of the Simonsberg Mountain. They are the youngest in the collective. The block overlooks the small village of Klapmuts with the rolling hills of the Swartland as an imposing backdrop.
The closest of our Cinsualt sites to Natte Valleij, in fact our neighbour. I have been passing it regularly with my bicycle since my school days, so more than likely the first Cinsault block I ever met. So a great honour to be able to make it into wine. 800 bottles
These bush vines must be the most isolated block in our collective. Planted on a lonely hill surrounded by wheat fields and too many gates to remember, this block stands very alone. Planted in 1978 (they think) on Malmesbury formation with strong influences of decomposed granite. The cycle form Natte Valleij to the West Coast is certainly for the intrepid. 165km of fairly unforgiving terrain especially in the summer months. Spending many holidays on the West Coast this route became second nature. After puncturing on one such trip, I was met by a local, we had a long chat and of course ventured to the topic of Cinsault. His characterful arm raised and pointed to this hill. 800 bottles
Bush vines planted in 1986 (the year Greg LeMond won his first Tour de France) on decomposed Malmesbury shale. The vineyard is situated on an eastern facing slope, which catches the early morning sun and a beautiful block to be in at sunrise. Discovered while exploring some new dirt road tracks for training, it just required a quick stop to confirm it was Cinsault. Always an interesting sight to see a cyclist in his Italian lycra in a vineyard. 800 bottles
These old bush vines planted in 1974, in the shadows of the Heldeberg Mountain are planted in decomposed granite and face West towards False Bay, making it the closest block we have to the sea and our oldest. Planted on rising ground on one of my regular cycling routes. It is this rising ground that aided its discovery. Although I may have been horribly out of breath, the speeds were low and I could afford to look around. My shock when I spotted this block that had survived Stellenbosch’s fashion trends of the 90’s! 800 bottles
Natte Valleij and its grand old cape Dutch buildings have been home to quite a few interesting people and produced its fair share of fine Cape Wines. One of these was an Italian prisoner of war (P.O.W.) Captured and exiled to the Cape to spend the duration of the Second World War on the grounds of Natte Valleij. Doubtless he helped with farming and quite possibly winemaking, whilst living the cottage my wife and I call home. The inscription P.O.W. B.T. 27/12/1943 is our only reminder of his stay. In his honour, we have hand-crafted this limited release wine. Our take on an SA Bordeaux blend. Traditionally vinified; a blend of the finest grapes of the vintage and matured for 36months in large oak barrels.
The father to our national varietal Pinotage and once stalwart red varietal of the industry, Cinsault has since fallen into obscurity. Affectionately still called Hermitage by the many old timers, it creates superbly drinkable wines festooned with red fruits, spice and surprising structure to age gracefully. This tribute to our wine-making past was hand crafted from selected parcels of old bush vines spread across the Cape, that have resolutely withstood time and showcases this varietal’s essence.
Named after the Swallows that return each year to breed in the cellars at Natte Valleij. The Swallow Blend is a testing field for new vineyards that we have selected to work with. Before we release them under the Natte Valleij name, they need to first prove themselves under the Swallow label. Aged for 18 months in small French Barrels an eclectic blend of Shiraz, Mourvèdre and Cinsault. Blended from four different wine growing regions from bush vines high against the Bainskloof Mountains to vines high in the Stellenbosch hills.