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Sunday, March 8, 2009


Latest releases from Middelvlei.

Middelvlei is a wine farm that is almost in town; well, it is on the outskirts of Stellenbosch, in the Devon Valley. It has been owned by the Momberg family for ninety years and today it produces seven quality wines that are value for money.

Two brothers, Tinnie and Niels Momberg, bought the place in 1919 and began making some wines, mainly fortified sweet wines. Their two sons, Stiljan Momberg and his cousin, Jan Bek, inherited the farm in 1960. Afrikaans idiom can be picturesque. Stiljan (Silent Jan) has always been a taciturn man. Jan Bek (Jan Mouth) was more voluble, and eventually and unsurprisingly he became a politician.

Stiljan became sole owner in 1963, and he is still around, quietly giving advice to the new generation, his sons Tinnie and Ben. Today there are 130 hectares under vines, cabernet, merlot, pinotage, shiraz, tinta barocca, chardonnay and sauvignon blanc, and production is about 35,000 cases a year, 95 percent of it red wine.

All Middelvlei wines are made from grapes grown there, so they can be accurately described as estate wines. Two-thirds of these wines are sold locally and the rest are exported to Germany, Holland, Scandinavia and other European countries.

The latest releases from the estate are Middelvlei Pinotage Merlot 2007 and Middelvlei Chardonnay 2008. Middelvlei was the first Cape cellar to blend pinotage and merlot. The proportions in the 2007 vintage are 50/50 and the result is bright red wine with a plummy and mildly spicy aroma. On the palate the wine is medium-bodied (13,6 percent alcohol) with berry flavours and a good strong aftertaste. A superior kind of wine that retails at about R60 a bottle.

Chardonnay is the only white wine produced at Middlevlei, and the 2008 Chardonnay is its 15th vintage of this white variety. It is unwooded and it has some lovely peach and guava flavours. Alcohol is 14 percent and the wine retails at about R48 a bottle.

The estate’s chardonnay production is now about 2,000 cases a year. The maiden 1994 vintage was just 140 cases, and the family consumed half of it. A certain economy with words does not interfere with the Mombergs’ enjoyment of life.

That is reflected, too, in their acquisition over the years of a large family of animals on the farm: the donkeys Port and Jerepigo; Ruby the Jack Russell; the dachshunds Pinotage and Pongracz; Tinta the Great Dane; Malbec the ridgeback, and others.

You may meet them if you visit the farm for wine tasting and sales, cellar tours and vineyard walks, weekdays and Saturdays. Phone 021 883 2565.