The farm on which Muratie Wine Estate is situated started life back in 1685 when it was granted to young German soldier Laurens Campher by Governer Simon van Der Stel. This surely must make Muratie one of the oldest estates in the Cape and judging by the delightfully old tasting room (along with cobwebs), there's no doubt there would be interesting stories from all the characters that lived there.
Perhaps the most influential owner to commence wine production on Muratie was George Paul Canitz. He started life in South Africa after he came here for health reason. His health must have improved as he decided to stay and opened up an art school in Stellenbosch.
One day in 1925 while out riding on horseback with his family, they became slightly lost and eventually stumbled across a derelict old farm called Muratie (a Dutch word for ruins).
He fell in love with the tranquil beauty of the farm and took possession of it in 1927 with a decision to plant new vineyards. As he was an artist and knew very little about farming, he sought help from the wine scientist, Professor Perold, of Stellenbosch University.
Perold analysed the rich and fertile soils and encouraged Canitz to plant a number of red varieties including Pinot Noir, which was the first time this variety had been planted in the Cape.
Canitz continued his career as a painter (a number of his art pieces hang in the tasting room today) as well as producing good red wines with the Muratie Pinot Noir being the most famous.
Canitz lived till 1958 after which his daughter took the reins and along with winemaker Ben Prins they managed the farm until Ronnie Melck purchased Muratie in 1988.
Today Muratie is owned and managed by Ronnie's son, Dr Rijk Melck, who has revived the rich heritage of this estate as well as the brand by naming his range of wines after the many characters that have made up its history along its way.
A long overdue visit to the farm last week allowed us to taste through the current wines made by Francois Conradie who has been the wine maker here since 2005.
We started off with their excellent MCC while standing under the century’s old Oak tree which was planted by the wife of Laurens Campher, Ansela, in honour of their marriage.
We moved through to the cosy tasting room where we tasted through the range of both the whiles, reds, ports and last but not least their Muscadel called Amber Forever.
The wines, which have a new label design, were all incredibly good and in particular the Ronnie Melck Shiraz, the Isabella Chardonnay and the George Paul Canitz Pinot Noir. I also loved the Ben Prins Port which Muratie has become well known for, but the highlight and biggest surprise for me was their white blend, the Laurens Campher 2011.
This wine is an interesting combination of Chenin Blanc, Verdelho (a Portuguese variety), Viognier and Sauvignon Blanc, of which the first three were barrel fermented.
After fermentation the wine spent time in both new, second and third fill barrels for six months prior to bottling. The result is a complex wine with honeysuckle aromas leading to a rich, slightly off-dry palate full of dried peach flavours with hints of caramel leading to a long, stylish finish.
Rijk's wife, Kim, has started a small restaurant next to the tasting room and offers a choice of four or five home cooked meals each day.
I enjoyed the wine with Kim's delicious chicken pie with vegetables grown on the farm.
Expect to pay: R103.00
To order this wine, email Wine Concepts