Recently I received an invitation to visit Glenelly to experience the release of their 2013 vintages of their Lady May and the estate's reserve signature blend. I had been longing for a return visit to their doors to view their impressive glass art collection and to get more familiar with their beautiful age-worthy wines. This is an estate that requires at least a once a year annual visit and I often recommended it to other wine and art lovers when they visit South Africa.
The birth of Glenelly
In 2003 May de Lencquesaing, world-renowned Bordeaux winemaker and owner of the famous Château Pichon Longuevillem Comtesse de Lalande, started a new adventure on South African soil when she purchased Glenelly in 2003 at the age of 78.
She replanted the former fruit farm to pristine vineyards with the help of viticulturalist Heinrich Louw, built a state-of-the-art winery and together with winemaker Luke O’Cuinneagain, began producing a highly-acclaimed range of wines.
In 2007 she sold Château Pichon to Roederer Champagne and devoted her time to the development of Glenelly. After closing to the public for a year due to extensive renovations, May, together with her grandsons Arthur de Lencquesaing and Nicolas Bureau, re-opened the Stellenbosch estate in late 2016 as a world-class Winelands destination including: The Vine Bistro headed up by French chef Christophe Dehosse, a tasting room with spectacular views, a stylish museum housing May de Lencquesaing’s extraordinary 480-piece glass collection, a school for the children on the farm and a refreshed wine brand that better conveys the three key elements that define their award-winning wines: power, elegance and balance.
My day started off in their gorgeous tasting room with a glass of their Grand Vin Chardonnay 2013. What a great way to start the morning with this vibrant Chardonnay with prominent notes of lemon and lime zest that floated through me in waves of creamy vanilla and elegant minerality. This Chardonnay definitely perked me up and make me feel wide awake and ready to experience Glenelly to the fullest.
The Tasting room with a view
The tasting room, on the top floor of the modern winery, overlooks the gentle lower slopes of the Simonsberg Mountain. Fuelled by natural light, the contemporary bar made using granite from the estate invites the guests to sit and taste. A series of tasting experiences and food pairings enable both neophytes and connoisseurs to enjoy and discover the award-winning wines. Visitors are able to taste current and back vintages of the Glass Collection, Estate Reserve and Lady May wines.
In the same room, the winemaker’s private tasting area is only separated by a large cabinet de curiosité featuring intriguing elements related to wine, the family and the estate. Here we got to do a vertical tasting of 3 Lady May vintages.
New vintage releases 2013
Lady May 2013
95 Points - Tim Atkin
92 Points - Christian Eedes
4.5 Stars - Platter's
Cultivar: 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Cabernet Franc, 4% Petit Verdot, 4% Merlot
Tasting notes: Lady May is Glenelly’s Flagship Estate Wine. The 2013 is a worthy successor to the 2012, this top end Hellenistic cab lives up to its Bordeaux pedigree of its legionary owner, May de Lencquesaing, Sappy, refined and mineral – etched with underlining fruit power, its fresh, stylish and subtle with dense age-worthy tannins and a long, tight finish.
food suggestions: Grilled lamb, braised beef, venison.
Cellaring Potential: 10 yrs
Glenelly Estate Reserve
4.5 Stars - Platter's
93 Points - Tim Atkin
91 Points - Christian Eedes
Cultivar: 47% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23% Merlot, 15% Syrah, 11% Cabernet Franc, 4% Petit Verdot
Tasting notes: Glenelly Estate Reserve is the signature red blend of the estate. The 2013 vintage is all about elegance with underlying power. Rich powerful aromatics of blackberries, cranberry and blackcurrant initially present themselves, followed by hints of savoury, spicy plum with touches of cedar and floral tones. The palate entry has good richness with fine tannin supported by the ripe fresh fruit and hints of spice. Very good oak integration with a fresh long finish.
food suggestions: Beef, lamb, game (deer, venison) and poultry.
Cellaring Potential: 10 yrs
The Vine Bistro at Glenelly
According to May, “wines are made to pair with food, so introducing a culinary experience at Glenelly was a logical step on our journey. My grandchildren initiated this project with Christophe Dehosse, the ideal chef to look after this exciting venture: French, but very established in South Africa, mastering haute cuisine but cooking simple dishes, getting his inspiration from traditional bistros of his homeland while experimenting with African and Mediterranean ingredients. He sources local organic farm products and serves very seasonal food”. The menu is small and changes regularly, with 5 to 6 options for each course, and features grass-fed and free-range where ever possible.
The Menu favourites at Glenelly include Cape line fish ceviche with tomato salsa and sea lettuce; Salad of marinated goats’ cheese, root vegetable crisps and basil pesto; Line-caught gurnard, ratatouille, pommes dauphine and fennel with cumin sauce; Cape Wagyu flat iron steak, fondant potatoes, grilled baby marrow and a shallot sauce; Braised pork cheeks, roast root vegetables and a thyme jus; Springbok loin, celeriac mousseline, broad bean and a red wine sauce; Canelé, roast pineapple and rooibos & honey ice cream; Strawberry parfait, meringue and strawberry & mint salad.
Inside, the decor is warm and elegant and includes a harmonious mix of 19 th century chairs, classic Parisian tables, a contemporary cellar, a fireplace for the winter, leather banquettes and a traditional bar with brass. Outside, on the terrace or under the pergola, expect long wooden tables, a water feature, plants and a pétanque court for long lazy afternoons enjoying the picturesque views of the estate.
The Glass Museum
The presentation of the extensive private collection of glass acquired by May de Lencquesaing was totally redesigned. Situated in the underground of the winery, you’ll be taken on a journey through 2000 years of glassmaking, with the 480 pieces of the collection, antique and contemporary from around the world, each telling a story.
The room was painted in a charcoal grey for the beautifully illuminated glasses to take centre stage. You will see Roman pieces, XVIII th and XIX th century glasses, Art Nouveau and Art Deco pieces, but also Daum, Salvador Dali, Lino Tagliapietra as well as American and South African contemporary artists.
The Wine Fox visits Glenelly
Glass Museum Opening hours: Wednesday to Saturday: 10h00 until 17h00 · Sundays: 10h00 until 15h00 · Closed: Mondays and Tuesdays Tel: 021 809 6440 · Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Tasting Room Opening Hours: Tuesday and Wednesday 10h00 until 18h00 · Thursday to Saturday until 19h00 and Sunday until 15h00 Tel: 021 809 6446 · Email: email@example.com
The Vine Bistro Trading hours: Tuesday to Sunday: 12h00 until 15h00 · Thursday to Saturday: 18h30 until 22h00 For bookings: Tel: 021 809 6444 · Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Till next wine wine warriors, may for wine force be with you...