New cellar obtains a footing with awards aplenty

Friday, 3 December, 2004
Marinda Blake
It’s not every day that a brand new winery can boast with clinching a double Veritas Gold Award with their very first wine.
Babylon’s Peak, a small private cellar in the Swartland, managed to collect one of these coveted awards with the 2003 Babylon’s Peak Babylon at the 2004 Veritas ceremony, earlier this year. This wine, a blend of 34% pinotage, 33% cabernet sauvignon and 33% merlot, also walked off with the trophy for Champion Red Wine at the Swartland region’s Young Wine Show of 2003. In addition it was named class winner at the 2003 South African National Young Wine Show. From the same stable comes a 2003 Babylon’s Peak Syrah that has also tallied a few awards. This wine walked off with a gold medal at the S A National Young Wine Show and was awarded a double gold at this year’s Michelangelo awards. These two wines are at this stage the only wines from the Babylon’s Peak cellar and were only released recently. Babylon’s Peak nestles on the slopes of the Paardeberg Mountain between Malmesbury and Paarl and is situated on the farm Nooitgedacht which belongs to the Basson family. The name is derived from the prominent granite knoll called Babylonstoren by the locals. Stephan Basson, fourth generation living on the farm, is the winemaker. After completing his studies at Elsenburg Stephan spent three harvests at Seidelberg in Paarl before re-joining his dad. Making their own wine was initially not a consideration but eventually passion got the better of Stephan and together with his dad he took the bull by the horns and restored the old cellar. This cellar, with its open cement fermenters, is where his great grandfather originally made wine and with the necessary equipment and a few barrels, it was renovated to its pristine glory. The vineyards, situated on the foothills of the Paardeberg Mountains are spread over a number of slopes with north easterly and south easterly aspects. The different soil types and microclimates result in a variety of wine styles making the winemaking process just so much more exciting and challenging. However, it is in the winery where Stephan is perfectly at home, creating the top quality wines that represent his philosophy of passion, perfection and tradition.