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Franschhoek Wine Comes of Age

Mf As followers of Leopard’s Leap probably know we are based in Franschhoek in the Cape winelands. I was interested to read this column in the Business Day newspaper by respected wine writer Michael Fridjhon (right) about how Franschhoek wines had come into their own. What was particularly nice was the recognition given to Hein Koegelenberg who is the MD of Leopard’s Leap and La Motte.

Here are a couple of paragraphs from the article:

“Franschhoek has never really been famous for its wines. The town has the kind of charm that makes people believe otherwise. It has retained its village character more successfully than Paarl or Stellenbosch. It has also traded off its French connection to create the implicit link between the iconic vineyards of France and the historic origins of the town itself…

“Franschhoek’s successful marketing of its link to the old world extended the useful life of many of its old buildings until its viticultural problems could be addressed. The natural setting for homesteads like La Motte, L’Ormarins and La Provence is a valley of vines. For most of the town’s modern existence this fruit was useful mainly as window dressing.

Hein_twitter “What has changed things has been commercial pressure on the land and the desire of some of the producers to seek better sites. As the vineyards have moved up the steeper slopes, the fruit quality has improved. Hein Koegelenberg (left), who has been running La Motte for the past 10 years, swiftly abandoned inappropriate varieties and poor site selection.

“His latest release — under the super- premium Pierneef label — is a shiraz- grenache blend. Some of the grapes came from Franschhoek, some from Darling, some from Botrivier. It’s a pretty smart companion wine to the cellar’s award- winning shiraz-viognier blend. An undoubted part of its success has been his willingness to source fruit from further afield than the valley of the Huguenots.

“Mont Rochelle, on the other hand, has sufficient land on the slopes above the town to source its premium chardonnay and cabernet fruit from the property. You might have to travel to Bordeaux (to Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte in the Graves) to find a comparable hotel and spa offering decent wine produced on the estate."

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