There are three things that every Capetonian loves: a good hike, an incredible market and a thrilling day at a wine farm. While wine has always been a great way to kick back and let loose (sometimes a bit too loose), it’s also got all the makings to cook up a memorable story.
And every bottle of wine has an incredible story to tell of its own. The consideration that is poured into the soil, the selection of grapes, the countless processes that it undergoes all culminates in an epic tale told by the author, or in this case, the winemaker (the best bedtime story ever).
The Setting: Waterford Estate
Every good story needs a setting, and Waterford Estate is a magical one. Driving along a gravel road, you’re greeted by seemingly endless rows of lavender bushes and citrus trees, remnants of its former past, as Waterford was once a fruit farm.
A Tuscan-inspired manor slowly creeps into view. You’d be forgiven for thinking that you’ve been transported to the idyllic valleys of Tuscany, but the dramatic Helderberg Mountains as its backdrop says otherwise.
The idea of “less is more” lies at the heart of this estate and seeps into everything that makes Waterford what it is. Despite its size (120 hectares), the estate is anything but pretentious, ensuring that the natural beauty of this area is the main star of the show.
With such a strong focus on nature, it’s no surprise that Waterford is renowned for its sustainability practices. They have invested in various techniques that ensure the preservation of the environment and boast a Wine and Agricultural Ethical Trade Association (WIETA) accreditation – a mouthful to be sure, however, guarantees that the wine you are sipping on has not impacted the environment in a negative way.
The protagonist: The Jem
While Waterford’s beautiful setting may hog all the spotlight, it’s the estate’s quiet protagonist that’s the true hero. Waterford’s latest addition and flagship wine is called The Jem. While it’s a fitting name for what can only be described as the estate’s crown jewel (it’s that good!), It’s actually named after the owner of the estate, Jeremy Ord. A selection of eight red varietals that have been beautifully blended to produce a wine that’s smooth yet robust, pairing brilliantly with a good book and a cosy fire.
The story behind The Jem 2015 is one of a labour of love.
During the launch of the 2015 vintage on June 12, cellar master Kevin Arnold shared his own story behind the Jem. As a young winemaker attempting to make a name for himself and exploring countless wine regions around the world, he saw the potential of South Africa to become a world producer of wine.
“South Africa never really tipped the mark in terms of being recognised as world producers – what was it that we were missing?” Arnold stated.
Over the next 20 years, Arnold ruminated on this question and concluded that it was time to do something truly South African.
He planted 11 different grape varieties based on soil structures, with varieties from Spain and Italy being planted alongside Stellenbosch’s typical varietals – something that is completely unheard of in the Stellenbosch wine valley and certainly raised a few eyebrows with wine experts and lovers.
Nevertheless, this is how the hero’s journey of the Jem began, culminating in victory when it was placed in the top 1% of the wines in the world with its 2011 and 2012 vintages.
“Great wines are born from the understanding of the plant, soil and climate of a specific site, together with the creative art of winemaking and blending. This is often a timeless pursuit, but when it comes together, the reward is eternal,” says Kevin Arnold
We love a story that has a happy ending.
Pictures: Waterford Estate