Tasting Vergelegen With Laura Sullivan

Laura Sullivan, Vergelegen UK brand manger, presents the estate’s top wines to members of the Harrogate Medical Wine Society 




The first vines were planted at Vergelegen in 1700 by founder Willem Adriaan van der Stel and included varieties such as ‘blue muscadel’, ‘steendruif’ (chenin blanc), white muscadel and frontignan. Current plantings make up some 158 hectares comprising cabernet sauvignon, merlot, cabernet franc, malbec, shiraz, sauvignon blanc, chardonnay and sémillon. Andre van Rensberg has been in charge of winemaking at Vergelegen for the past seventeen years.


Vergelegen Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2014 (Served at reception): Grapes come from the Schaapenberg Vineyard on the Schaapenberg Hill which functioned as Governor Van der Stels’ look out post for ships rounding Cape Point. The 2.5 hectare single vineyard was planted in 1988 and is located 6.5 km from False Bay, directly south-facing at 320 meters above sea level. The grapes were hand-picked and de-stemmed but not crushed. They were cooled to 8°C and pumped into the Bucher Inertys Press, which uses nitrogen instead of air. Fermented at 12-14°C is for 16 days, followed by 3 months on lees. (Schaapenberg Sauvignon Blanc 100%. Alc 13.9%, RS 1.5 g/l, TA 6.0 g/l, pH 3.29.)



Vergelegen Reserve Semillon 2013: The grapes come from south facing vineyards that were planted in 1991 on the Korhaan sites. These vines are not irrigated and are severely wind exposed, leading to good flavours and chemical composition. The grapes were picked from 27 February to 4 March 2013. They were whole bunch pressed, fermented in 225L French oak barrels and aged for eight months with lees stirrings. Bottling took place on 25 November 2013 and total production was 2806 bottles. (100% Semillon. Alc 14.27, Rs 1.7 g/l, Ta 5.9 g/l, pH 3.30.)

Vergelegen G.V.B White 2012: The Semillon was planted in 1991 on the south facing Korhaan flats at 220m above sea level. The Sauvignon Blanc in the blend come from the 20-year old Schaapenberg vineyard. The row direction is east-west and the vineyards are planted to 2 clones, 316 and 317. Grapes were hand-picked, the Semillon a week after the Sauvignon, whole bunch pressed and barrel fermented; the Semillon in 50% new, 50% 2nd, 3rd and 4th fill, 225 L barrels and the Sauvignon in 500 L barrels, 25% new. The wines were matured for 9 months before bottling on 18 December 2012. (56% Schaapenberg Sauvignon Blanc, 44% Semillon. Alc: 13.21%, RS 3.0g/l, TA 7.2/l, pH 3.05.)

Vergelegen G.V.B Red 2011: Only the Rondekop vineyards are used for the production of the Vergelegen G.V.B. They are dry-land vineyards with a planting density of 4000 vines to the hectare on granitic soils with a deep clay/pebble base offering excellent water retention. Planted at 180-220 meters above sea level, the vines are cooled by moderate sea breezes every afternoon, allowing for a longer growing season. 2011 was a moderately cool summer with warm days and cool nights – allowing for great flavour and colour development. Working with concentrated fruit from low-yielding vineyards (3-4 tons/ha), care was taken not to produce over-extracted wines. The juice was fermented with local yeasts and macerated for 5 weeks. Maturation took place in 100% new 225 litre Sylvain Darnajou & Taransaud French oak barrels with three rackings over a 22 month period. Total production was 6664 bottles, bottled on the 14 May 2013. (Cabernet Sauvignon 75 %; Merlot 20 %; Cabernet Franc 5 %. Alc 14.54%, RS 3.1 g/l, TA 5.4 g/l, pH 3.49.)

Vergelegen V 2009: The vineyard used is Stone Pine IV which consists of 2 adjacent units on the west to northwest facing inland slopes of Schaapenberg. It is relatively sheltered from the prevailing breezes coming off False Bay and therefore enjoys a slightly warmer but still predominantly maritime climate. The two units are planted on Hutton and Glenrosa soils and are both well drained and slightly limiting on vigour, but still offer a good buffer capacity supporting the vines in adverse climatic conditions. This combination of soil, climate and site ensures full ripening of the fruit without excessively high sugar levels. Grapes were hand-picked and fermented in closed tanks at temperatures of 25-28 ̊C. The young wine received a post fermentation maceration of 35 days, followed by malolactic fermentation in stainless steel. The wine was racked into 100% new French oak and matured for 22 months, followed by 24 months in bottle before release. The wine was bottled on 14 June 2011 and total production amounted to 5871 bottles. (100% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14.28 % Alc, 3.7 g/l RS, 5.9 g/l TA, 3.57 pH.)



Mushroom Risotto with melted Brie and Truffle Oil

Vergelegen Reserve Chardonnay 2013: The designated vineyard is Korhaan/Southern black named after one of South Africa’s indigenous birds. The vineyard is south facing and 220 meters above sea level. It is protected from the south-easter’s onslaught by two other vineyards. The soils are classified as Clovelly which means that their origin is in the Stellenbosch granites. The vineyard is not irrigated and yields never exceed 6 tons per hectare. The Korhaan Chardonnay was picked on 18 March 2013. Grapes were whole-bunch pressed with no skin contact. The juice, with some clarification, was racked into 50% new French oak barrels (Francois Frère, Dargaud & Jaegle) and 50% second-fill and third fill barrels for alcoholic fermentation. The spontaneous onset of fermentation was allowed for and after 3 days the barrels were inoculated with a pure culture yeast strain. Fermentation took approximately 15 days to complete. Once the sugar was fermented, all 32 barrels were topped up. Only one-third of the barrels were allowed to complete malolactic fermentation to retain optimum acidity/freshness. The wine was left on the gross lees for 9 months with regular battonage, then stabilized and bottled on 31 January 2014. (100% Chardonnay. Alc. 13.77%, RS 2.8 g/l, TA 6.7 g/l, pH 3.19. Drink over the next five years.)

Beef Bourguignon with Buttered Rice timbale

Vergelegen DNA Cab Franc/Merlot2011: Grapes were hand-picked and de-stemmed but not crushed. They were cooled to 8°C and ‘cold soaked’ for 168 hours. Fermentation took place at 26°C followed by a 28 day maceration on the skins. After malolactic fermentation in stainless steel tanks, the wine went into 100% new French oak barrels for 16 months. (Cabernet Franc 61%, Merlot 28%, Cabernet Sauvignon 11%). Alc. 14.41%, RS 3.7 g/l, TA 5.5 g/l, pH 3.57)

Caramelised Apple Tart

Vergelegen Semillon Straw Wine 2011: Grapes were either dried on the vines or on wooden pallets. Processing started the moment sufficient sugar concentration developed. The grapes were not crushed or de-stemmed but fermented on the skins in plastic bins. This helped to break down cell tissue and released slightly higher quantities of juice. The fermenting sweet juice was transferred to old barrels for completion of alcoholic fermentation. Bottling took place on 3 July 2012. (100% Semillon). Alc 12.97%, RS 129 g/l, TA 7.6 g/l, pH 3.22. 

Tea/Coffee & Mints



  • “Thanks so much for your coverage and the lovely email. It was a pleasure. I’m pleased that the group enjoyed it, don’t hesitate to contact me should you require further details on our brand. Have a super day. Warm regards. – Laura (Sullivan), 25 October 2016
  • “What a great evening! Thank you for planning and working so hard to put on a memorable evening.  The enthusiasm of Laura the presenter was evident and she was a great ambassador for such wonderful wines. I thought the wines were elegant and stylish. I enjoyed in particular the Semillon and the GVB red – though in truth all were very  satisfying.
    And in addition the food was excellent – I enjoyed the risotto paired with the Chardonnay 2013.
    Look forward to the next meeting.” – David Morris, Harrogate, 21 October 2016
  • “The elegant Vergelegen wines were very well received last night.  Can we look forward to Fells offering a selection to HMWS soon? The valley at Somerset West is one of the most scenic in South Africa and the estate gardens are a work of art. Great memories from our HMWS visit so many years ago.  Many thanks for arranging this evening for us all.” – Dr. Stephen Cameron, Pick Hill, 21 October 2016
  • “Thank you for arranging last evening’s tasting and dinner and for contacting me about the last minute available place. The speaker’s knowledge about and passion for Vergelegen wines made for compelling listening and I very much enjoyed the wine selection.” – Gail Bent, Harrogate, 21 October 2016
  • “These were some of the best quality wines we have tasted recently and some would definitely improve over the years. Thank you once again for organising another superb wine tasting. Laura was a very knowledgeable and charismatic presenter and  was passionate and rightly so about the Vergelegan wines. We really enjoyed all the wines but on balance our favourites were the Vergelegen Reserve Semillon and the Vergelegen DNA. A trip to Vergelegen would be wonderful. Another excellent meal prepared and served by Adam and his staff.” – Pat & John Shore, Harrogate, 21 October 2016

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