Pillars, elegance & value at Stellenrust

Monday, 26 August, 2013
Stellenrust Wine Estate
An immoderate number of pillars announce the main stone building at Stellenrust estate. On a gentle rise among the vineyards, with the Stellenbosch mountains staring loftily down, they stand in serried ranks, ushering the visitor to the door.
Perhaps it only seems so many because most of them support nothing: they were originally intended to be more functional, I believe, but it was realised that the splendid views might get spoilt. The prospect is rather handsome, but more grandly Graeco-Egyptian than one expects in the land of whitewashed gables.

More to the point are those vineyards and the wines they produce. I can’t immediately think of any producer – let alone a Stellenbosch one – offering such a large range of good, serious wines at prices that you’d think would have people stampeding past those pillars.

At the bottom end, there’s a quartet of R30 wines under the Kleine Rust label – but these are neither here nor there, decent enough competition for other dumbed-down, off-dry stuff on the lower supermarket shelves.

Genuine interest begins with the Stellenrust cream-labelled wines, which sell off the farm for between R40 and R50. These are mostly offered simply as single-varietals – the usual suspects, from Chenin and Sauvignon to Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon. All are modest wines in the best sense of that rather unfashionable concept: unshowy, unforced and elegant, mostly properly dry without being lean; with decent alcohol levels and little new oak to occlude the purity of the fruit.

The standout for me in this excellent bunch is probably the radiant, just-dry Chenin Blanc 2013 – again, if there’s a better wine for R40, I haven’t noticed it. By the way, if you’re suspecting that such prices speak of particularly bad conditions for Stellenrust’s workers – I think not; this is, I believe, the Cape’s largest Fairtrade-certified farm.

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