Featured Wine Estate: Mont Destin
A Unique Destin-ation
On the slopes of the Simonsberg Mountain, between Stellenbosch and Paarl, there are several large internationally-recognised wine estates, with diverse attractions and experiences designed to encourage the visitor to linger a while, rather than just drop in for a quick wine tasting.
But today I’m not interested in them. I’m visiting Mont Destin, a unique boutique wine cellar, family-owned and run by German-born Ernest Bürgin and his South African wife Samantha (“call me Sam”).
Back in 1995, Ernest and Sam wanted to buy a South African wine farm. After extensive fruitless (pardon the pun) searches throughout the Cape, they were becoming despondent – nowhere spoke to them. On their last day of searching, almost at the point of giving up, they happened upon a small hillside location, covered with bush and scrubland, with not a single vine. But it was perfect, and it was for sale. It had been their destiny to find this idyllic spot, which they appropriately named Mont Destin. But it was not yet a wine farm.
Months of hard graft, clearing and planting lay ahead of them, then years of viticulture ahead of that, but they instinctively knew that it would be worth the effort.
Today, a striking entrance with an imposing gate and stylish sculptures welcomes you to this unique wine estate. The intriguing abstract sculptures accompany you on the short drive up to the cellar, with its Luis Barragan architecture, striking colour scheme and young cypress trees bending gently in the warm afternoon breeze. This could be Tuscany, except for the imposing backdrop of the Simonsberg, and the blue Cape skies.
The presence of a welcoming committee of dogs is always a pleasure for me when visiting wine estates. After fulfilling their curiosity, the four Mont Destin dogs go about their way, to keel over in a shady corner, and wait to investigate the next visitors, lazily eyeing you as you walk past. There is also a potbelly pig, Claudia, roaming the estate. If you’re lucky, you may spot her near to the gate.
But to the wine. It was always agreed that Mont Destin would be solely a red wine producer; such are the perfect growing conditions for red grapes in this part of the world. Only 7 hectares of Shiraz, Grenache, Cinsault and Mourvedre are under vine, producing a range of three unique and individual wines, each carrying the personal involvement and passion of Ernest and Sam.
Mont Destin wines are hand-crafted. Every grape is harvested, de-stemmed, selected and caressed by hand. Such is the care and attention to the fruit, only the best grapes are selected for the wines. Because of this attention to detail, only four tons of grapes can be processed per day (other estates can easily handle twice that volume).
To own and operate a wine estate that only concentrates on crafting specialised, unique red wines in such small quantities, requires a special passion and dedication to ensure that every single bottle is of the highest possible quality when it heads to the customer. Speaking to Sam, you can’t mistake the drive, passion and dedication that they bleed into this estate.
The three wines produced are:
11 Barrels 2015
Cinsaut 70% Shiraz 19% Grenache 7% Mourvedre 4%
To call this wine “entry level” does it a huge disservice.
Named after the original production run of just 11 barrels, this sleek red blend, should be drunk whenever, and wherever possible.
Blackcurrants and spice on the nose. Mouth filling ripe, juicy raspberries and cherries with hints of dark chocolate and black pepper. A long, lingering finish.
Price: ZAR 132.00 (per bottle, ex-VAT)
Passioné Red Blend 2012
Shiraz 60% Cinsaut 20%, Grenache 10% Mourvedre 10%
The name was inspired by the 1996 collaborative album between musicians Chris Rea and Shirley Bassey, and reflects the passion and dedication of the winemaker’s art. It’s a wine for celebrations, such as the end of the week.
A plush, velvety red colour leads into notes of red cherries and ripe red berry fruit. Concentrated and complex mouth filling flavours of Black Forest Gateau. Soft tannins and a velvety texture lead to a long, lingering, savoury finish.
Price: ZAR 342.00 (per bottle, ex-VAT)
Destiny Shiraz 2011
The estate’s flagship wine was declared Best South African Red by the Mundus Vini International Wine Awards.
The Destiny is a rare beast. Limited to only a few hundred bottles from each vintage, each bottle is labelled and numbered by hand, the cork is sealed with wax, and the Mont Destin crest is embossed on a further wax seal on the bottle. For that extra personal touch, the owners Samantha and Ernest sign every bottle.
An intense, velvety and well-balanced wine that is complex and layered, with mouth-filling rich, blackberry flavours and hints of pepper. With supple tannins, all the components of the wine are in wonderful harmony. A long and velvety finish rounds off this superior, elegant wine.
Price: ZAR 872.00 (per bottle, ex-VAT)
Another unique feature of Mont Destin is the al fresco “wine bath” – discovered almost by accident, but now a popular choice of guests who book an overnight stay at the small cottage on the farm.
The benefits of drinking red wine are already well-known, but according to my anonymous researcher, a red wine bath can smooth out wrinkles, cure cellulite, and generally tone our bodies. Just don’t tell your gym instructor.
Whatever the health benefits, being immersed in a bath of warm red wine, in a private, secluded corner of the winelands, surrounded by nature, accompanied by a glass or two of Mont Destin’s finest wines, as the sun slowly sets behind Table Mountain, there can’t be a more unique experience.
Pass my glass, would you?