The thermometer dropped to 14°C in the early hours of this morning, and whilst it isn’t quite cold enough yet to reach for my beanie and gloves, summer is becoming a distant memory and winter is quickly setting in. Soon Chef Anna will be brewing Glühwein to warm the tummies during the chilly winter nights whilst we huddle for warmth around the BOMA fires under the beautiful African sky, but before we get there, let’s focus on some beautifully crafted wines that will go down even better.

Stellenbosch is a town rich in history, dating back to 1679 when then Governor of the Cape, Simon van der Stel, settled in the area. Vines were among the first crops planted in the area and the district boasts just less than 200 wine farms. The terroir is diverse, but in general rainfall is good, the soils are deep and drain well, and the terrain is mountainous. Varieties such as Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Shiraz do well here and produce lovely full bodied and well-structured wines such as the ones below.

Rustenberg “Five Soldiers” Chardonnay 2011


Rustenberg was founded in 1682 when Roelof Pasman from Meurs (near the Rhine in Germany) recognized the lands wine-growing potential. Rustenberg has been bottling wine for an unbroken period since 1892. The farm was purchased in 1941 by Peter and Pamela Barlow and today 3 generations of the Barlow family have farmed the land, with father and son, Simon and Murray, currently producing world class wines. Photo courtesy of Rustenberg Estate

Rustenberg Five Soldiers (1 of 1)

The Rustenberg “Five Soldiers” Chardonnay is named after 5 large stone pine trees which stand sentinel on a hill overlooking the Five Soldiers vineyards.

Just because the temperature is dropping it doesn’t mean we need to abandon all white wine and grab the most full bodied, ox-blood coloured red wine available. This Chardonnay has been oaked for 15 months on predominantly first fill Burgundian barrels and allowed to naturally undergo malolactic fermentation, resulting in a medium to full bodied wine with ripe apple, melon and peach notes with a long creamy finish.

Nicolas van der Merwe Syrah 2007 & Nicolas van der Merwe “Bordeaux Blend” 2008

Nico v d Merwe both (1 of 1)

Recently added to our wine list, these 2 wines were crafted by Nico van der Merwe. After being a winemaker at Saxenburg in Tulbagh and Chateau Capion in the South of France for over 20 years, he decided to follow his dream to create his own wine.

In 1999 Nico and his wife made their first vintage of their flagship wine, “Mas Nicolas”, and during August of 2005 the couple found their smallholding Mooi Uitsig (translated from Afrikaans – Beautiful View), called this due to its stunning view from the Cape Hangklip to the Tygerberg hills.

Nico v d merwe syrah (1 of 1)

The Syrah is full bodied, yet elegant, it displays soft silky tannins with the usual Syrah notes, black fruit, mocca and spice. The wine is rather high in alcohol at 15.5% but at the same time the wine is so well balanced that you don’t even notice, until 4 glasses down the line.

Nico v d Merwe Syrah (1 of 1)

The Bordeaux style is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc, is medium to full bodies, with soft tannin structure, red fruit cherry flavours and hints of oak spice with a fruity finish.

 Waterford Estate “The Jem” 2005

Waterford Estate was founded in 1998 and was created through a special partnership between 2 families. Jeremy and Leigh Ord purchased the prime vineyard land which Kevin and Heather Arnold had identified. Kevin and Heather planned and built a new winery and resurrected the existing vineyards and orchards and have been instrumental in developing Waterford into the showcase estate it is today. Photo courtesy of Waterford Estate.

Waterford The Jem (1 of 1)

“The Jem” is Waterford’s flagship red wine and is a pure expression of the Helderberg in Stellenbosch. The wine is dedicated to, and named after, Jeremy Ord, Waterford’s proprietor who is fondly known as Jem to his friends and family. An interesting blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Shirax, Mourvédre, Merlot, Malbec, Barbera and Sangiovese, the wine has notes of cedar, cassis and spice. The tannins are well integrated, soft and elegant.

Ken Forrester “The Gypsy” 2010

The farm Scholtzenhof was originally granted by Governor Simon van der Stel as Zandberg to Frederick Boot of Gotha (near Wagenheim in Germany). Mr Boot was a rather colourful character, a soldier who had completed his contract and hence a “free burger”. He fathered no fewer than eight children out of wedlock, and for this he and his mistress were banished to Mauritius for 10 years! Photo courtesy of Ken Forrester

In 1694 Frederick Book planted the first vines at Scholtzenhof. The farm changed hands numerous times since and was purchased in 1993 by the Forrester family who restored the 17th century homestead, replanting the vines and developing quality wines.

The Gypsy is primarily from a very beautiful, unique Grenache Noir vineyard, planted on its own roots, with no graft, way back in 1959. A single vineyard of 5 hectares planted on a 300 ha property with no adjoining vineyards. Literally a tiny postage stamp on a map. Here the wild antelope eat the outer fringes of the leaves in the vineyard, baboons eat the ripening fruit, it is altogether a very difficult remote site on a flat mountain plain 3 hours north of Cape Town in the Tierkloof region near Citrusdal. This fruit is harvested and brought back to Stellenbosch for crushing and fermentation and then matured in old 400 French barrels for a year, the blend is then decided with Syrah and perhaps a drop of Mourvèdre and then the blend goes back into barrels to marry for another year after which the barrels are selected for the final assemblage.

The Gypsy (1 of 1)

Ken Forrester named this wine “The Gypsy” because he believes it is the perfect embodiment of a travelling Gypsy with its voluptuous, wild, free-spirited nature. Grenache has a rather wild character and this wine has a wild and brambly character with lush flavours of nutmeg, cinnamon, blackberry and spice. 

On your travels to Londolozi this winter, you can rest assured that you will be kept warm and cozy with heartwarming food, BOMA fires, hot water bottles, snug blankets, and delicious wine!

Full line up (1 of 1)

The full line-up of our Winter Warmers for 2015 – best enjoyed with loved ones around a fire, overlooking the Sand River or watching the sun set below the winter horizon


Written by Kim Drake – Sommelier 

Photographed by Amanda Ritchie – Photography Studio Manager 

Filed under Cuisine Life Travel Wine

About the Author

Kim Drake

Wine Curator

“When a winemaker gets the wine right, it is pure joy, like sipping a wonderfully painted artwork from the Louvre.” These are the words of Kim Drake, Londolozi’s Procurement Manager turned part-time Sommelier. Kim’s love of wine first started developing in 2010, shortly ...

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on Londolozi’s Winter Warmers for 2015

Join the conversationJoin the conversation

Marinda Drake

Awesome blog Kim. Love the Rustenburg Five Soldiers. Chardonnay. One of my most favourites, winter or summer. Nicholas v d Merwe Syrah is such a great wine. The Gypsy is just as good. Lovely choice of wines

Jill Grady

Great blog Kim! I love hearing the history of the different wineries…very interesting. Boma fires, snug blankets, delicious wine and beautiful Londolozi…sounds like heaven to me!

Kim Drake

Thanks for the comments Jill. The history definitely makes the wine more interesting and so much more special.

Kim Drake

Thanks for the lovely comments Marinda.

Kate Collins

Great blog Kim, very interesting information. Looking forward to some winter wine with you in the boma!

Kim Drake

Thanks Kate, looking forward to some good reds in the Boma with everyone!

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