I love any reason to celebrate; in fact, I try to do it every day! Something worth shouting hip-hip-hooray about, is the release of four new wondrous whites by Stellenbosch Hills to recognise 75 years of hard work, excellence and quality.
I do a little internal happy dance every time I get to experience a new bottle of wine I’ve never enjoyed before. The anticipation of the first sip; the inquisitive introduction to the wine farm and wine maker, the excitement when I’ve found something new that I want to write about. Every bottle of wine is worth a celebration of some sort; whether it’s to mark an occasion, to celebrate a new release, to introduce a new varietal or even just because you get to enjoy a great bottle of wine in good company.
Now imagine my overexaggerated happy dance when a massive box of Stellenbosch Hills wine arrived at my door. My first meeting with this wine cellar, I couldn’t wait to celebrate this enormous occasion with them in true Little Hedonist style.
Stellenbosch Hills is an award winning wine cooperative located in the farming district of Vlottenburg, just outside Stellenbosch, South Africa’s viniferous capital. They are renowned for producing a wide selection of quality wines at extremely competitive prices. The grapes (±8000 tons) are produced by sixteen members from a broad spectrum of terroirs, within the Stellenbosch wine of origin district (https://www.stellenbosch-hills.co.za/).
75th anniversary year
So, what are we celebrating, you ask? Not only are we recognising the addition of two new white wines – ambassadors of Harvest 2020 – but also a milestone for the winery celebrating its 75th year.
In fact, the launch of Stellenbosch Hills Chenin Blanc 2020 and Stellenbosch Hills Sauvignon Blanc 2020 brings to four the number of current white wines available. They join the showstopping Sense of Place Anna Christina MCC 2018 and 1707 Reserve White 2019 as the wines to have, right now.
A sweet little celebration
Because Stellenbosch Hills probably know that I live for pure indulgence, they also sent me a treat box from Pyjamas and Jam Eatery. Filled with decadent mini-cheesecakes, they were perfectly paired to each of their four white wines for an ultimate home experience.
I’ve always said that wine tasting and pairing should be a fun experience, and that it is completely personal. Although each wine maker might offer you suggestions to what you should taste, smell or pair, the perfect pairing is what you personally enjoy most. I’m a big fan of breaking through stringent wine tasting protocols, because, in the end, it’s about the consumer’s ultimate enjoyment, however they might experience it.
Stellenbosch Hills‘ super innovative pairing chart made navigating the tasting duo’s easy and intuitive, although I found it just as nice to be able to play around and mix and match the different flavours and profiles to my palate. It was a little bit like a chess game – moving the bottles and cheesecakes around until I found my blissful sweet spots!
I’ve noted the dessert pairings under each wine, highlighting what I found most delicious!
Chenin Blanc 2020
Tasting notes: the medium-bodied, balanced wine shows prominent fruit characteristics with a hint of lemon zest and crisp acidity. The flavours recall passion fruit, melon, green apple and litchi.
In the vineyard: hand-harvested in the Lynedoch area.
In the cellar: no skin contact took place, only free run juice was used for the making
of this wine, and the wine was cold fermented.
Ageing potential: enjoy now or within two years from vintage
Cellar door price: approx. R55 a bottle
Food pairing suggestion: best served chilled and can be enjoyed with dishes like spicy prawns, grilled fish, chicken à la king and pasta.
Dessert pairing: caramel and guava cheesecake
A massive fan of sweet-savoury combinations, this little cheesecake elevated the natural fruit flavours of the Chenin without overpowering its citrus nuances. With a lovely guava hum from both the wine and the dessert, it was surely one of my favourite combinations. Totally delicious, with a lovely, lingering crisp finish.
Sauvignon Blanc 2020
Tasting notes: full-bodied and crisp with a lime zest acidity. On the nose, there’s green fig, gooseberry and sweet melon. The fruitiness rolls onto the palate, with hints of guava and asparagus.
In the vineyard: the grapes were picked at optimum ripeness to preserve the tropical fruit flavours in the wine.
In the cellar: four hours skin contact, only free run juice was used, and the juice was allowed to settle for two days before fermentation. The wine was cold fermented.
Ageing potential: enjoy now or within two years from vintage.
Cellar door price: approx. R65 a bottle
Food pairing suggestion: best served chilled, the wine is great on its own or with grilled fish and a salad trio of tomatoes, fresh basil and mozzarella.
Dessert pairing: lemon meringue cheesecake
I mean. My two favourite desserts squished into a bite-sized round of yum. A zesty Sauvignon Blanc that cuts through the rich buttery pastry, I had to close my eyes in sheer happiness for a moment. The tangy, lemony goodness of the cheesecake harmonised with the gooseberry and green fig notes of the wine, leaving you with a clean and neat pairing.
1707 Reserve White 2019
The1707 Reserve White 2019 is the current vintage of this premium wine available. The 1707 range itself comprises just this and a red wine – each representing the finest fruit selection and winemaking technique. Both are barrel-aged.
Tasting notes: stone fruit, honey, citrus and vanilla oak spice. The palate is elegant, balanced by lively citrus fruit and crisp acidity.
In the vineyard: 70% Chardonnay, 20% Semillon and 10% Viognier. All the components of the blend come from one grower, in the Stellenbosch Kloof area.
In the cellar: each variety component was treated separately until blending. Just 3 000 bottles were produced.
Cellar door price: approx. R135 a bottle
Food pairing suggestion: oysters, sushi, fish curry, mussel soup, risotto, grilled chicken and cream-based dishes.
Dessert pairing: almond and apple crumble
A classic white blend paired with a classic dessert. The Chardonnay simply flourishes under the guidance of the honeyed, caramelised apple crumble, whilst the Viognier and Semillon components draws out the cheeky tartness of the apple and the warmth of the almond beautifully. A gorgeous wine, and one that I’ll happily have with or without dessert.
2018 Anna Christina MCC
This single vineyard Cap Classique is part of Stellenbosch Hills’ flagship Sense of Place range, a portfolio dedicated to the best the winery can produce. Every wine is available in limited quantity.
Tasting notes: aromas of fresh Granny Smith apples and citrus blossoms with a nutty yeastiness on the nose. Crisp acidity tingles the well-balanced palate while a delicate mousse delivers a satisfying, mouth-filling explosion of bubbles with every sip.
In the vineyard: handpicked at 19 brix to ensure that the best qualities of the fruit are represented in the base wine.
In the cellar: handpicked and processed using a pneumatic press, which allows for gentle extraction of the best juice. Winemaking of this maiden and current vintage then followed the traditional French method for the making of champagne and spent 15 months on the lees.
Cellar door price: approx. R195 per bottle
Dessert pairing: nougat cheesecake
Oh my. I thought I’ve tried it all. Stellenbosch Hills hit me for a six with this combination, which simply oozes celebration. With the most elegant mousse, this MCC is delicate, yet packed with the expected Chardonnay characteristics. Strong and bold, it stands up against the sturdy cheesecake and nougat components, without breaking its decadent stride. If you’re looking for a full-mouth experience of note, I’d suggest you investigate this specific pairing. Utterly delicious and decadently more-ish.
The wines are available via the winery’s tasting room and website, or ask for it at leading wine outlets and restaurants countrywide.
I love it when a brand invites you to explore and play with their range of wines. Stellenbosch Hills have embraced the best of their wines, and showcased it against the best possible backdrops, whilst encouraging a bit of play between the tastings.
Thank you, Stellenbosch Hills, for making every day a celebration with the release of your four wondrous whites!
Share your #StellenboschHills tasting moments on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/StellenboschHills/), Twitter @STBHills and Instagram @stellenbosch_hills.
Stellenbosch Hills is located at the intersection of the R310 and Vlottenburg Road, just outside Stellenbosch. It is open Monday to Friday, 09h00 – 17h00; and, Saturdays: 10h00 – 15h00; and, closed on public holidays.
Disclaimer: I was given this product(s) as part of a press drop in exchange for my honest and truthful opinion and review thereof. All thoughts and opinions expressed herein are solely those of The Little Hedonist, given in good faith and in no way influenced by the company or its affiliates. All images, unless otherwise stated / credited, are also my own.
The Little Hedonist endorses responsible drinking.
Don’t drink and drive. Not for persons under 18.