{experience} Muratie Summer Wine Down: a story of a family and a tree

A day spent at Muratie Wines is one of those things that infuse your heart and soul with absolute joy and happiness. Enveloped by the mighty oaks and the arms of a welcoming family, you can’t help but to become part of Muratie’s story – one that started with a forbidden love story, and a tiny oak sapling.

Introduction

Curbed by the restrictions of the pandemic, Muratie had to bow the knee and let go of their planned annual harvest celebration. This is a family affair that drew crowds from all over the province, eager to soak up the hospitality of the Melck family.

Always one of my biggest highlights on the social calendar, I was utterly thrilled when I was invited as part of a small group of people to celebrate in a more subdued way – the Muratie Summer Wine Down.

Featuring all the treats from the harvest festival, it was a rare opportunity to steep ourselves in the heart and soul of Muratie’s history, whilst rejoicing for small mercies and a bountiful picking as the 2021 harvest made its way to the cellars.

Background

When Ronnie Melck, charismatic wine industry legend with a boundless passion for life bought Muratie in 1987, fulfilling a lifetime dream of returning the historic estate to the Melck family, he and Annatjie moved into the Muratie Manor House.

There had been so many interesting characters shaping Muratie’s past, but now it was our turn”, reminisces Annatjie. “We infused new life into the old homestead, establishing our very own culture of food and wine. There was hardly ever an empty seat at our enormous dining room table. There would be music, the wine would flow, the kitchen would be a hive of activity, and the aroma of food would infuse the atmosphere of our Muratie home. Wonderful stories were told, and friends from all over the world were made.

Since Ronnie’s untimely passing in September 1995, Annatjie has continued to live in the Manor House and express her love of food in so many different ways.

Today, Annatjie continues to work closely with her daughter-in-law Kim, also an accomplished foodie, overseeing the preparation of Muratie’s range of preserves and homemade treats available in the tasting room, and the authentic farm lunch at Muratie’s popular Farm Kitchen Restaurant. Kim describes the Farm Kitchen as an embodiment of the Melck’s food and wine culture, an extension of their home. “I have my apron on and Rijk pours the wine. We do it all and we hope for our guests that it is like being hosted in someone’s home, with warmth and friendliness.”

A stroll down memory lane

We started our afternoon, in true Muratie style, with something quite spectacular: a special serving of Muratie’s 100% Chardonnay MCC 2008. It was just delightful, and the perfect welcome as we mingled from a distance with fellow vino’s and foodies. This joyous reunion made way for a vertical wine tasting under their famous giant oak trees.

Marketing Manager, Desmond,  kept us enthralled with Muratie’s charming history, filled with characters with bold personalities, unbridled passions and steely determination. The underlying theme of Muratie’s history, however, is one of patient love, which echoes through the years into their current-day cellar and today sits at the heart of their wine-making philosophy.

The wine down

After vertical tastings of their Laurens Campher Blended White, their Merlot and their Cabernet Sauvignon, we took a moment just to breathe in the hospitality and generousity of this old estate. Under the stewardship of Rijk Melck and his family, Muratie prides itself on authenticity; on quality wines and on its stories. Much like the tales of Muratie’s pre-decessors, each bottle holds a story of meticulous wine-making, of years of refining skills, of decades of unstoppable ardor for family, tradition and heritage.

Tasting vertically

Tim and I particularly enjoyed the 2017 Laurens Campher Blended White, having been a sterling year for wine making. Although, I will proudly admit, I relish each glass of Laurens Campher, regardless of vintage!

The oldest wine Tim and I’ve ever tasted, Desmond graciously treated the group to a tasting of their 2001 Merlot. It felt as if I was sipping on flashes of history, with undertones of dark stone fruit. Every bit as beautiful as I expected, this was a moment in my wine career I’ll cherish for years.

We couldn’t pick a favoured Cabernet Sauvignon between the 2008, and the Martin Melck 2013 or 2015. Not the biggest fan of this particular red varietal in general, I always have at least three bottles of the Martin Melck in my wine racks, as I love Muratie’s unique interpretation of this worldly popular grape variety. So incredibly rich, textured and delightfully complex, it sets the bar very high for any other Cabernet Sauvignon to exceed.

Lunch time

Over lunch time I got a cheeky chance to greet my old friend, Muratie’s Isabella Chardonnay. It’s one of those little pleasures I afford myself, and will never leave Muratie without a glass, as it somehow just tastes better under the oaks, or in the dark interior of their tasting room.

We started off with a smoked chicken Ceasar salad, prepared by Kim herself, and the portion was generous, just like the Melck family’s hospitality. Fresh, vibrant and incredibly tasty, it was a suitable companion for Isabella.

After a languid pause, a few more chats and even more sips, it was time for the main event. As much as I love arancini, Muratie’s lamb shank is an absolute must. You just need to look at your plate for the meat to flake off the bone, dripping morsels of meat laden onto a fork with a rich gravy. Served with the customary garden veg, it was a meal with a story.

We rounded up our farm-table lunch experience with a berry panacotta, dainty enough to pair with bubbles, but beautifully flavourful to hold its own against the Laurens Campher White Blend. We sat at the table for a few more hours, savouring the sunshine, the fresh air, the little bit of socialising we all safely and cautiously practiced, all wrapped up in a comforting and welcoming Muratie embrace.

In conclusion

If you ever feel like escaping the confines of the city, need to practice a quiet act of self-care, looking for a new place to visit, or new wines to taste, or, like me, just adore good food, take a drive out to Muratie. Let the Melck family show you what true camaraderie looks  and feels like. I’ve visited countless times, and every time it feels like a special sort of home coming. Every time I arrive with a story, and leave with a different one in my pocket, safely tucked away to mull over as I sip a glass of Isabella.

Thank you, Rijk and Kim and the Muratie team, for creating this incredibly special place for us to enjoy, and for sharing your knowledge, passion and colourful history so abundantly.

Second photographer: The Tall Hedonist, aka Timothy P. Gibson

The Little Hedonist has made every effort to ensure that the information in this post was correct at the time of publication. However, I do not assume any liability caused by errors, such as price, menu changes, opening times, and contact details.

Disclaimer: I was invited to this event in my personal capacity. There was no expectation for platform coverage in the form of a blog, or social media posts. This is 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.

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