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.