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International Trophy White Blend under £15 – DeMorgenzon, Maestro, Stellenbosch, South Africa 2014

There’s a winemaker of unquestionable skill and craft behind this outstanding fusion of varieties. The fruit is plentiful and rich, with notes of lemon, tropical fruit, white flowers, spices and herbs. It’s powerful and textured, with a gravelly palate and a lengthy finish (14%).
£14.99 Halifax Wine Co, Lea & Sandeman, Oxford Wine Co, SA Wines Online

Two years ago, the 2012 vintage of this wine won the South African Regional Trophy for Best White Blend under £15 – and now DeMorgenzon’s Maestro 2014 has gone one better and taken an International Trophy home to Stellenbosch. In doing so, it beat two French rivals, one from the Languedoc and the other from Gaillac.

What’s the secret? It might be the eclectic mix of grape varieties – Maestro 2014 blends 26% Roussanne with 25% Chardonnay, 19% Grenache Blanc, 17% Chenin Blanc and 13% Viognier – or the 10 months’ ageing in small French oak barrels and cement eggs.

Vineyard location may also play its part. DeMorgenzon translates as ‘morning sun’, and the estate’s grapes catch the first rays of the day in the Stellenboschkloof valley, vines covering the top southern and eastern slopes of Ribbokkop, overlooking the distinctive peak of Kanonkop.

DeMorgenzon’s high-altitude hinterland can be challenging for vine-growing, such is the steepness of the slopes, but the pay-off is a variety of microclimates. This facilitates the growing of an array of grape varieties, thus increasing the blending options open to winemaker Carl van der Merwe.

But perhaps the true secret of DeMorgenzon’s success lies in music – from which this Trophy-winner takes its name. Vines and maturing wines alike have baroque music constantly playing in the background, thanks to speakers strategically positioned in the vineyard and cellar. Owners Wendy and Hylton Appelbaum admit that ‘not much scientific investigation’ has been undertaken to calculate the benefits of this tuneful accompaniment, but it certainly seems to be working so far.

L-R Winemaker, Carl van der Merwe and owner, Wendy Appelbaum

DeMorgenzon’s winemaker Carl van der Merwe and owner Wendy Appelbaum

Tasted against

Château Bas d’Aumelas, Languedoc, France 2013 • Château Clément Termes, Blanc Perlé, Gaillac, Southwest France 2014.

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