Historic Durbanville family farm produces an SA Top Ten 2013 vintage

Thursday, 17 October, 2013
Supplied by Ian du Toit
Sauvignon Blanc savants should look out for the Phizante Kraal Sauvignon Blanc 2013. The wine, grown on historic Groot Phesantekraal farm in Durbanville by André and Ronelle Brink and made by award-winning winemaker Thys Louw, has been selected="true"="true" as one of the 10 best exponents of this classic, best-selling variety among over 200 wines entered in the 2013 FNB Top Ten Sauvignon Blanc competition.
Judging is done under the auspices of the Sauvignon Blanc Interest Group of South Africa (SBIG), an independent wine producer body formed in 2007 to promote sauvignon blanc. A delighted Ronelle Brink says this is yet another step up for their wine, their previous vintage having made it into the final twenty at last year’s event.


Groot Phesantekraal, the home of Phizante Kraal wines, is one of Durbanville’s oldest farms, originally granted in 1698 by Cape Governor Simon van der Stel to ship’s captain Olof Bergh (whose name lives on as one of the Cape’s rare aged brandies produced by the solera method). Records show that by 1756 some 40 000 vines had been planted on Groot Phesantekraal.

Owned since 1897 by the Brink family, the 930ha property has since been primarily devoted to mixed farming (grains, cattle and sheep). But current custodian André Brink re-established some 50 hectares of vines from 1996. These replaced mostly old bush vines from which father Rennie harvested grapes to supply what is now Distell as well as some leading Stellenbosch wineries for their top-quality labels.

The Brinks continue selling the majority of their grapes – primarily Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz – to big-name cellars, retaining only some 10 tons for vinifying under their Phizante Kraal label since the 2005 vintage.

The award-winning Sauvignon Blanc comes from a small block planted in 2007 on high ground on the farm which lies amid undulating hills on the north-eastern edge of Durbanville. The hillside aspect benefits a variety which blossoms in cooler conditions. But, at the same time, the soil and farm’s inland location (compared with the rest of maritime-influenced Durbanville) produce grapes for the typically tropical, full-fruited style of Sauvignon Blanc of which the Phizante Kraal is a prime example.

The wine is made for the Brinks by Thys Louw, sixth-generation grape grower and vintner on nearby Diemersdal. Says Ronelle Brink: ‘The families have been friends for years. We asked Thys to make our first wines for us on the understanding that he could withdraw at any time, but he insists, calling them his “babies”.’

Groot Phesantekraal is open for tasting Monday to Friday from 9am to 4pm and Saturday mornings by appointment. ‘Visitors are always welcome!’ says Ronelle. ‘Cellar door sales are growing.’ Besides the lauded Phizante Kraal Sauvignon Blanc 2013 (selling at R55 a bottle), also available are small quantities of Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz and the new Anna de Koning Chenin Blanc (named for Cpt Olof Bergh’s wife, the daughter of a Batavian slave woman who worked in Cape Colony ‘founding father’ Jan van Riebeek’s household).