Morgenster of South Africa

Morgenster is a substantial, family-owned estate in Somerset West, abutting Stellenbosch at the foot of the Helderberg Mountain. Though founded over 300 years ago and centred around a beautiful Cape Dutch manor house dating from 1786, the current owners are the Bertrand family. Piedmontese businessman Giulio Bertrand bought the estate in 1992 having made his fortune in textiles, though today the estate is run by his daughters, Federica and Alessandra.

It is perhaps due to his Italian culture that Giulio also established Morgenster as a substanial olive oil producer, pioneering this crop when he planted 2,000 olive trees on the estate. In wine terms however, he looked to Bordeaux, inviting Pierre Lurton of Châteaux Cheval Blanc and d’Yquem to visit Morgenster. Following the visit, Lurton became a consultant for the business, later joining the board of directors, and his Bordeaux team still involved with each year’s winemaking and blending working alongside cellarmaster Henry Kotzé.

France meets Italy

The estate is focused on Bordeaux varieties, with Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot planted, though once again the Italian heritage is evident with Sangiovese, Nebbiolo and Vermentino vineyards too.

There are currently three ranges: The Italian Collection, Single Variety Range and Premium Range.  Morgenster was kind enough to send me the two red wines from the Premium Range to try (there is also a white Bordeaux-style blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon).

This was the first time I had tasted these wines since I visited the estate with Henry Kotzé in 2010. Both of the premium reds are based on Bordeaux varieties from Morgenster’s rocky, weathered shale soils, and aged in premium French oak. The are excellent wines, with a definite European influence, that will also have substantial ageing potential, particularly the estate red.

The Wines

(2022) What a lovely wine is this blend of Bordeaux varieties, aged 12 months in French oak and made in consultation with Pierre Lurton of Château Cheval Blanc. It has a flood of ripe raspberry-like red fruit, bright and touched with garrigue scents, then a palate that is seductively plush and darkly-fruited, the cocoa and tobacco spice of the barrels set against creamy black fruit, but still with that hint of brighter, red fruit freshness. Real polish to the tannins too, in a long and graceful finish.
(2022) From a selection of the best parcels of fruit, aged in French oak barrels for 18 months, this wine was blended in cooperation with Pierre Lurton of Château Cheval Blanc. It is composed of 36% each of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, plus 14% each of Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. A very powerful and plush aroma, deeply-set with blue-black fruit, very polished graphite and creamy dark oak aromas, and with a lovely little pepper and floral lift. That polished depth carries through to the palate, where a sumptuous bed of black fruit and creamy, dark oak supports juicier hints of fruit and pert cherry-skin acidity, the finish filled with fruit and tobacco-like spices with excellent length. This must surely have considerable cellaring potential too.

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