A brand new outlook for the historical Uitkyk Estate

Friday, 13 December, 2013
Uitkyk Estate
Set on the southwestern slopes of the Simonsberg in the greater Stellenbosch wine district, Uitkyk is a magnificent wine estate, brimming with history, delicious wines, immaculate gardens and endless views.
Established in 1712, the 600ha Uitkyk (“lookout”) Estate boasts views as far as Table Bay and False Bay. The Georgian Manor House was filled with life and fun in days gone by, and today, Uitkyk is reliving this sense of opulence, joy and vivacity.

Grand Designs

The neo-classical manor house was completed in 1788 and is one of only three 18th century double-story flat roofed Georgian style houses in South Africa.

During restoration work in 1995, two magnificent murals were discovered in the entrance hall under 15 layers of paint. They depict Spring and Summer with meticulous detail of birds, plants, insects and fruit. A stunning feature of the manor house is the front door which was crafted by sculptor Anton Anreith: it follows the line of Table Mountain and the design is repeated on the homestead’s inner doors.

Another charming attribute are the love messages etched in the glass windowpanes on either side of the front door. Ladies in the late 19th and early 20th centuries wrote little notes of love with their diamond rings on these windowpanes and these “billets doux” can still be seen today. It is these letters filled with hope, passion and adoration that form the inspiration for Uitkyk’s brand-new MCC.

The Manor House now offers tours, including a glass of the Glass Memoires MCC, 11h00 and 15h00, Monday to Sunday at R30.00 per person. And there’s no better way to experience this architectural treasure trove.

A taste of things to come

The tasting room set in the shell of the historic cellar is the perfect place to savour the boutique wines made in the estate’s state-of-the-art cellar by winemaker Estelle Lourens. Estelle has been making Uitkyk’s stellar wines since 2000 and her perfectionist approach has resulted in numerous awards. Her aim is simple and passionate: “To put Uitkyk in the position it deserves as one of South Africa’s historical wine estates cellars where the experience of the wine and the place, leaves an indelible print on one’s memory.”

The Uitkyk Estate range consists of serious wines such as the flagship Carlonet 2010. This is a full-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon with hints of prunes, berries, chocolate and spices and heady undertones of vanilla oak, all adding further depth to this legendary wine.

The Shiraz, with its aromas of blackcurrant, white pepper and mocha, delivers with flavours of pepper with velvety ripe tannins. With respect to the white wines in the range, the Sauvignon blanc’s herbaceous flavours of green peppers and fig leaves with a tropical hint of granadilla and litchi make it perfect for a hot summer’s day, while the oaked Chardonnay bursts with fruit, caramel popcorn and nuts, making it a great choice to pair with food.

A brand new addition to the range is the Uitkyk Chenin Blanc. Winemaker Estelle Lourens is extremely excited about this offering: “I couldn’t wait for it to develop in the bottle, but I knew I had to be patient with this unique wine.” Selected from a single-vineyard, grapes from the 34-year old vineyard block were harvested and the resulting wine is pale yellow in colour. The bouquet of ripe guava, pineapple and floral flavours is exotic, while time in wood together with extended lees contact has added delicious notes of butterscotch and nuts. This follows through on the palate with fruit as well as sweet vanilla and honey, making it ideal for pairing with dishes such as curries and Mediterranean food, or a classic pork roast.

One of the most exciting additions to Uitkyk’s viticultural offerings is its first Méthode Cap Classique: Glass Memoires Chardonnay/Pinot Noir MCC 2011. A classic Pinot noir and Chardonnay blend with grapes exclusively from the estate, the MCC boasts complexity with fine, lively bubbles. The palate is zesty and fresh while the lime and baked bread flavour profile is rich and enjoyable. At 12% alcohol, it can easily be enjoyed at any time of day. Named after the messages left on the glass windowpanes of the Manor House, this MCC echoes the romance, heritage and joy that these messages represent.

For true connoisseurs, Uitkyk’s 10 Year Grand Reserve Brandy is a must. It’s the oldest estate-mature potstill brandy in South Africa and is filled with spice flavours of vanilla and cloves as well as fruit. Made from Clairette blanche, Cinsault, Chenin blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes, the brandy is matured for nine months in new Limousin oak casks followed by ten years in second-fill Limousin casks. The result is a brandy that is finely balanced, complex and distinctive. At the tasting room, visitors can enjoy a brandy and chocolate tasting session, the perfect way to discover the brandy’s richness. From vanilla truffle rolled in almonds to heavenly citrus marzipan, brandy and cream Belgian chocolate truffle, to hazelnut praline Belgian milk chocolate truffle and dense and decadent fruitcake, each taste reflects aromatic components
in the brandy.

Good eats

In keeping with the historical theme, Georgian-style picnics will be available to enjoy on the estate. Delicious treats include French baguette, hummus, a trio of cream cheese, basil pesto and sundried tomato pesto, caramelised onions and quality cold meats. Smoked salmon trout roses, roast vegetable and feta tartlets and a quirky salad in a jar bursting with Mediterranean treats such as olives, artichokes, feta and sundried tomatoes are rounded off with a cheese platter, green fig preserve, fresh fruit and a gooey brownie. The picnic basket, which serves two, is priced at R350 and includes mineral water, a bottle of Uitkyk wine and a picnic blanket. There is also the option to upgrade your picnic to the R380 Carlonet Picnic which includes a bottle of the estate’s flagship Carlonet wine or the R400 Glass Memoires Picnic which includes a bottle of the new MCC. There are hidden corners, ancient trees and expansive lawns on which to enjoy this sumptuous fare. Take a break with a game of boules or croquet before lazing back again with a glass of estate wine.

Sound ecology 

Uitkyk Estate can proudly boast that it is a Biodiversity & Wine Initiative Champion. 52% of the total property, more than 310 ha of virgin veld, has been set aside for conservation. A large part of the area falls within the Greater Simonsberg Conservatory. Rudi Buys, the viticulturist and manager of Uitkyk says: “The conservancy supports one of the largest remaining remnants of the critically endangered Swartland shale Renosterveld, named for the rhinoceros which in earlier years were frequently found grazing in this type of  vegetation.

“Since 2008 we have been clearing on average 8 to 10 ha of land per year infested with alien vegetation. Working in one of the gorges recently we uncovered, to our great delight, a small stand of silver trees, that belong to the Protea family. We are obviously now very keen to re-establish these beautiful trees in our area.”