LIKE A FINE WINE, LANZERAC CONTINUES TO AGE EXCEPTIONALLY WELL WHILE RETAINING TIMELESS GRACE. WYNAND LATEGAN, LANZERAC’S WINEMAKER CHATS TO ROVE SA ABOUT THE LEGACY AND JOURNEY OF WINE AT THIS ICONIC ESTATE.
First-class. Those are the words that come to mind when visiting Lanzerac Wine Estate.
It’s hard to find the words to adequately express an experience at Lanzerac, but Wynand Lategan, Lanzerac’s winemaker comes pretty close to it while describing the wine. “It’s the perfect place where old-world charm meets new-world fruit.”
Meeting Lategan in the midst of the busy harvest season, my expectation is to meet a man who seems a bit frazzled, but like all employees at Lanzerac he comes across as highly efficient yet warm.
I notice immediately that while working at one of the most iconic wine farms in South Africa, he has a humbleness, yet quiet confidence that stems from experience and passion for what he does.
“After studying, I worked as a journalist but really wanted to work outdoors in nature. After a time, I started doing some wine courses and realised that I could make this a career. I started by working weekends and every holiday in tasting rooms at wine farms and eventually got a job as an assistant winemaker,” Lategan says.
“Winemaking affords you so many opportunities – not only is it about farming but you have a creative outlet to produce something amazing from nature and add input to various aspects of the business, such as marketing, finance and so forth,” he adds.
“Each day is different, particularly during harvest. While you have a general plan, sometimes things change. I have to consider the outdoor elements, load-shedding and various other factors. I have to be very adaptable and take a very hands-on approach.”
According to Lategan harvest time can vary slightly.
“It’s a bit like giving birth to a baby and you have to be ready whenever its ready and then monitor it 24/7. Harvest lasts about two months and I have a general idea of what I will be getting because wine is actually made in the vineyard, which I consistently monitor.
“It is critical how you manage your vineyards in growing season as that influences your wine more than what you do in the cellar. Throughout the growing season I can ascertain the character of what I am going to get. The key to making a really good vintage is to get the timing right, know when to harvest and to not overdo the wine in the cellar. For me it’s about finding the perfect fruit in vineyard.”
Lategan explains that Lanzerac’s wines are unique in the sense that it focuses solely on the Jonkershoek Valley and its terroir.
“Each winemaker has their own style, but for a good wine you have to be cognisant of the terroir and work with that. South African wine is a combo of old world and new world – old world style but new world fruit.
“Our white wines are very much about balancing freshness and fruity flavours, and our reds feature dark fruit and polished tannins. All our wines are about balance – I never want to over-oak a wine or over-ripe the fruit. Our wines also tend to focus more on the palate than the nose – it has a lot of substance on the palate.”
Lanzerac has three main ranges: Jonkershoek Range, Heritage Range and Cellar Master Range (limited).
“There are always new ideas but for the Jonkershoek and Heritage Range it’s about consistency to cater to our clients. Once I have done the core wines – Jonkershoek and Heritage – I then experiment a bit, which is what the Cellar Master Range is about… I am never too old to learn something new,” says Lategan.
Dining at Lanzerac Deli
In search of a light meal that is packed with fresh produce, the deli is the place to be. The relaxed yet textured décor feels luxurious – there are indoor and outdoor seating options. We opted to have a quick lunch and a tasting here. The deli offers a wide variety of freshly made breads, pastries, gourmet sandwiches and snack platters.
The deli also has a store that is reminiscent of an elegant padstaal (farm stall) with savouries, wine and various other items on offer.
There are three wine tasting options on offer:
1. Jonkershoek tasting: 5 wines from the Jonkershoek Range
2. Wine and chocolate tasting: 5 Jonkershoek Range wines paired with artisanal chocolates
3. Heritage tasting: 4 flagship wines inclusive of the Lanzerac MCC Blanc de Blancs Brut
Our experience of the wine and chocolate tasting
This is a pure bliss experience! All four of us loved this – even the one person who is a bit “meh” about chocolate. The wine is a testament to the Lanzerac operation, particularly the Merlot which is exceptionally smooth on the palate. The pairing of each chocolate is perfection and brings out more flavours of the wine.
More formal than the deli, the Manor Kitchen is home to gourmet dishes in a setting that is both elegant, classy yet contemporary. Chef Stephen Fraser is a legend with balancing flavours and textures that result in artistic plates with flavour profiles that seduce the senses.
Chic country-style décor results in a relaxing, cosy ambience. The menu is classy pub-grub.
Tranquillity, luxury and ultimate relaxation is on offer with a variety of treatments and panoramic views of the lush landscape of majestic mountains and vineyards.
Take a trip
Guests are treated to a variety of experiences in the area, which can be arranged by the hotel such as trips to surrounding areas. For those looking to be a bit more active there are mountain bikes and scoot tour rentals to experience the nearby mountain biking trails and nature reserve.
The Jonkershoek Valley is well known for its fynbos, trails, lush forests, majestic views of mountains and conditions suited for growing grapes.