A modern return to the roots of SA wine

Johan Krige, Charl Theron, Carli Jordaan, Albert Eksteen and Neil Ellis.

Roodeberg celebrates its 70th anniversary this year, has taken its narrative back to the heart of the country’s winemaking roots with the launch of “1949”, a meticulously crafted, limited edition commemorative blend.

Launched in 1949, Roodeberg was the brainchild of Dr Charles Niehaus, a legendary pioneer of the South African wine industry, who crafted the first vintage from the 1946 harvest.

Dr Niehaus was the successor of Dr Abraham Izak Perold, the KWV’s chief wine scientist, and father of Pinotage.

Inspired by a glorious sunset over the Paarl mountains, the name Roodeberg harks back to the vineyards of Rothenberg near Geisenheim in Germany, where Dr Niehaus studied winemaking.

He retired in 1971, leaving a rich legacy of winemaking prowess in his wake.

For the first 55 years, Roodeberg was exclusively made for export after Canada paved the way in the 1950s.

Although not readily available locally until 2004 without an acquaintance with a KWV quota, Roodeberg enjoyed iconic status in the hearts and minds of South Africans.

It is said that bartering test match tickets, biltong and the like, in return for a bottle or two, was common practice. The January 1986 Wynboer said, for South Africans abroad, a glass of Roodeberg was like a hug from home.

Continuing the Roodeberg tradition as a blend with universal appeal, Roodeberg 1949 lends new vitality through the added dimension of exciting varieties from sought-after vineyard sites, starting a new chapter in the illustrious Roodeberg story.

The maiden 2017 vintage was crafted from Stellenbosch grapes grown on Grondves Farm, one of the primary sites for the development of mother plant material
for the South African wine industry.

“Roodeberg 1949 is a dedicated collaborative effort harnessing some of the finest plant material along with our combined viticultural and winemaking expertise,” says winemaker Louwritz Louw, who worked closely with viticulturist Marco Ventrella and former KWV cellarmaster and renowned wine educator, Professor Charl Theron, in seeing this exclusive commemorative blend come to life.

Roodeberg 1949 embraces the revival of French and Spanish varieties; cabernet sauvignon (38%) forms the foundation of the blend, complemented by Tempranillo (29%), Carignan (20%) and Carmé* ère (13%).

“Each variety brings something unique to the blend resulting in a wine of exceptional concentration and finesse. Cabernet sauvignon and Tempranillo lend structure and intensity, while the Carignan and Carmé* ère contribute spicy intrigue and depth of flavour,” adds Mr Louw.

Rigorous selection from the vineyard to the barrel is the bedrock of Roodeberg 1949.

After fermentation, the different components are left to mature for 18 months in new French oak barrels and only the finest barrels are blended and bottled for this commemorative wine.

Roodeberg 1949 will be released annually in limited quantities and the blend may vary from year to year, and the wine sells for R249 at the KWV Emporium.

Bolander’s Carolyn Frost and Norman McFarlane were guests at the celebratory event.