Franschhoek literally means French Corner. This beautiful valley in the Western Cape was famously settled by the Huguenots after the Edict of Nantes in 1685 outlawed Protestantism in France and forced the choice between emigration or religious persecution.
They spread far and wide – the Netherlands, Switzerland, the UK, North America and the Cape of Good Hope. The first records of a Huguenot reaching the Cape is in 1671 but larger groups started to arrive in the 1680’s with assistance from the Dutch who were sympathetic to their religious persecution and to whose country they had fled from France.
Here they were granted land by the Dutch Governor and settled in what was originally known as Oliphantshoek (Elephant’s Corner) due to the large number of these animals that lived in the valley. They brought their wine expertise and methods with them and were instrumental in the growth and development of the South African wine industry, so much so that their legacy lives on not only in wines that are still made in this traditional manner but in the surnames of the region – Le Roux, De Villiers, De Klerk (Le Clerc), Joubert to name a few all have their roots steeped in Huguenot history.
in Provence. Vines were only planted in 1752 by Huguenot descendant Gabriel du Toit and the farm has passed through several hands since then until being bought by its current owners, the Rupert family, in the early 1970’s.
Dr Anton Rupert is a South African legend – a billionaire entrepreneur, businessman and conservationist – he founded the Rembrandt Group and saw the huge potential for premium quality wines to be made in the region and is credited with much of the success that wines from this region have had to date. In 2004 he was voted 28th in the Top 100 South Africans and his daughter, Hanneli, now owns the estate.
La Motte own vineyards throughout the Western Cape and the grapes for this wine were sourced from 5 different regions – Walker Bay, Franschhoek, Darling, Paarl and Wellington. This was primarily done because of the unusually high temperatures in the August preceding harvest causing uneven ripening in the grapes, prompting the sourcing of the best grapes across a wider area. Each region has a unique micro-climate and terroir contributing to distinctive grapes resulting in each making a distinctive but harmonious contribution to the finished product. Hand-sorted, the grapes were cold-soaked for a few days, inoculated with yeast and then fermented at 25 degrees celsius. Thereafter the wine was exposed to prolonged skin contact for 20 days before undergoing malolactic fermentation in 225 litre new, second and third fill oak barrels for 16 months.
This wine is relatively restrained for a New World Shiraz and – going back to the founders roots – is much like the wines of the southern Rhone. At 14% alcohol it is an attractive deep violet-red colour in the glass and the bouquet is full of familiar Shiraz spices – nutmeg, liquorice, cinnamon and cloves backed up by blackcurrant fruit and white pepper. The body is firm but the tannins are extremely soft and well-rounded for a wine of this age making it more full of finesse than fruit. The finish is long, pleasant and peppery.
Food choices should be flavourful and assertive – guinea fowl, spicy pates, game and roast beef, while it is a good match for creamy, strongly-flavoured cheeses. It is great with slightly wet beef or game biltong as an aperitif.
Not my favourite South African Shiraz nor the best example of what this grape variety can offer in the country, I give it 80 out of 100.
It is however very good value for money at £ 8.79 per bottle from Majestic and well worth buying a case at this price.