Unveiling of Glenelly's Flagship Lady May 2012

Tuesday, 13 March, 2018
Glenelly Estate
“The journey of Lady May started ten years ago, in 2008, when I was invited to visit May de Lencquesaing in France,” recalls Glenelly winemaker Luke O’Cuinneagain.

“She poured me a glass of wine to taste. All I knew was that is was a special Bordeaux wine from her cellar. Despite the obvious age of the wine it  displayed extraordinary finesse, freshness and depth. To my huge surprise the wine turned out to be a 1873 Lafite Rothschild, ‘the benchmark’, according to Madame, for the flagship wine we would be producing at Glenelly. Four years later we launched Lady May, named in honour of Glenelly’s Grande Dame. 2008 was the first step on an exciting adventure towards producing a ground-breaking Bordeaux-style wine with great elegance and exceptional ageing ability.”

Lady May is crafted predominantly from a single Cabernet Sauvignon vineyard planted on a cool east facing slope, with a dash of other Bordeaux varieties. Taking after its owner, the wine is elegant, distinguished and venerable. A sculpture of May de Lencquesaing by famous French artist Maxime Real del Sarte (1948), a wedding gift, adorns the label.

Having been set an enormous challenge by Madame, Glenelly have produced several highly-acclaimed vintages of Lady May, reaping prestigious awards, including a pinnacle 5-star rating for the 2009 vintage in Platter’s wine guide. In 2017 Tim Atkin, Master of Wine and co-chairman of the International Wine Challenge (IWC), paid tribute to May de Lenquesaing and Glenelly at the IWC Awards ceremony when she was honoured with a Lifetime Achievement Award. “Anyone who has been lucky enough to drink a bottle of the legendary 1982 Pichon Lalande and to see the foundations she laid at the Château will recognise what she achieved in Bordeaux; anyone who has tasted recent vintages of her Glenelly Lady May red will recognise what she has achieved in South Africa. Few people make such a mark on two continents.”


2012 is the latest vintage to be released. The refreshed label captures the purity and elegance of the wine. The warm gold colour of the new capsule and the illustration on the label, reflect a return to May’s illustrious roots at Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande in Bordeaux, where the original capsules were the very same shade of gold. On the back label, May describes her vision for this special cuvée (see the quote above).

The Lady May 2012 is a blend of 89% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Petit Verdot and 1% Cabernet Franc. The grapes were hand sorted, lightly crushed and naturally fermented in stainless steel tanks. After 2-3 weeks post fermentation skin contact and gentle pressing, malolactic fermentation takes place in oak barrels. The wine is then matured for 24 months in oak from the finest French coopers.

Compared to the previous vintages, the 2012 is more brooding and concentrated. It is intense, deeply coloured and complex. The nose is an alluring invitation of fresh black fruit such as cassis and blackberries, leading on to red fruit, primarily raspberries and cranberries. On the palate, notes of thyme, roast beef and cedar contrast with blackberry tones. The tannins are very fine and well-integrated and will give this wine considerable ageing potential of 12 to 18 years.

Accolades: The 2012 Lady May, as well as the 2011 and 2013 vintages, have all received 95-point ratings in Tim Atkin’s South Africa Special Reports.

Retail price: Lady May 2012 can be purchased online at www.glenelly.co.za and is available nationwide at specialist wine merchants. Recommended retail price: R490.

“It has always been my dream to craft the finest Cabernet Sauvignon blend outside of France. At the grand age of 78, I finally discovered Glenelly Estate, in the heart of the iconic Stellenbosch, the ideal place for my vision to become reality. Selected from the highest and coolest vineyard slopes, these grapes confer to Lady May elegance, exceptional depth and ageing potential. This wine is my legacy.” - May de Lencquesaing