Nabygelegen Wine Estate review

This is the last of my posts from my recent weekend in Wellington. The other posts cover my visit to Jorgensen’s artisanal distillery and lunch at the Stone Kitchen. I also enjoyed lunch and some opera at Diemersfontein. I’m usually there for Pinotage on Tap, so it was interesting to see the restaurant, Seasons, looking how it should. The opera was small an intimate, an opportunity to be exposed to some of South Africa’s up and coming talent. It’s great that the owners of Diemersfontein are supporting the arts in this way.

Now, back to Nabygelegen…

There are many great wine estates in the better known wine regions like Stellenbosch and Franschhoek, etc. However, they are generally quite commercial and the wine tasting experience itself often lacks personality. You generally pay your fee and choose five wines to taste while someone (normally a student) pours them for you and recites the information about the wine. This is why most people who have done a fair amount of tasting will seek out the smaller, less well known estates, hoping for a more personalised experience.

Nabygelegen is one of these smaller estates. There is no fancy restaurant to attract you (although they are opening a deli soon, so that might change), nor a big brand name to dazzle you. It’s a fairly small estate where the owner grows the grapes and makes the wine. James McKenzie purchased the farm in 2001 and has put in an immense amount of work, not only with the wine but also the buildings which have a tremendous history. This has resulted in a beautiful and enormous guesthouse, in which we spent the weekend.

I have been known to rough it before, but I really do like luxury so when I walked into the guesthouse I immediately started plotting how I could move in permanently. Unfortunately all the options I came up with involved having to hurt James and he’s too nice a guy. So we spent a very pleasant weekend there and left very reluctantly. If I remember the story correctly, the guesthouse was originally the farm manager’s house and was damaged by fire. It has now been beautifully restored but things like the incredibly thick walls hint at it’s history. The guesthouse is separate from the main house, in fact you have to walk back to the driveway and continue down the road the access the main house. See my (very amateur) pics below for an idea of what the guesthouse looks like. As you walk in there is a bedroom to the left and another to the right. They are huge, each containing a small lounge suite in addition to the king size bed. Each room also has its own bathroom and veranda. If you continue straight into the house, in front of you is one big open plan room. First the lounge, then the 10 seater dining room table, then the kitchen. The kitchen leads onto a veranda and a few metres from the veranda is the swimming pool.

If we had stayed longer we so would have had people over for dinner around that dining room table and cooked up a storm in that kitchen, but we didn’t get to do any of that. We did however get to lounge by the pool which was awesome, especially as there are vines about a metre away. The house has a very homely feel. It’s luxurious but not five star (small things like single ply toilet paper, hard towels, no soap, etc). I don’t really know what the current situation with the guesthouse is, I know they are looking for a manager so perhaps it’s not being fully serviced. We were staying as invited guests, so wouldn’t expect the full service. We loved the place and would recommend it to anyone spending some time in the area.

Now onto the wine tasting experience. We started tasting outside, at a table under the trees. We tasted the Nabygelegen Lady Anna, a blend of chenin, sauvignon blanc and semillon. I found the wine to be nicely balanced, crisp and easy drinking. Next we had the Nabygelegen chenin which isn’t shy on the wood, giving it a complex character. The reason I specify that they were Nabygelegen wines is that they also have a range called Snow Mountain which is made from grapes grown high up in the nearby mountains. We tried the very dry Snow Mountain rosé which is made from merlot grapes. This one split the camp with some loving it and others hating it.

Next we were taken into the barrel cellar where we had a little introduction to the winemaking philosophy at Nabygelegen. We also got to taste the new Sauvignon Blanc straight from the tank before being ushered downstairs to the private wine cellar. We all huddled around a small table, surrounded by James’ personal wine collection. It feels like a secret club meeting down there and I don’t know if that changes the way the wine tastes but I was blown away by what we tasted down there (I am mainly a red wine drinker).

We started with the Snow Mountain Pinot Noir, an awesome wine which Neil Pendock rated 5 stars. Then we moved onto the Scaramanga, which caught my attention as it contains tempranillo, a Spanish varietal which can be very temperamental! It also contains cabernet sauvignon, merlot and malbec, all combining to create an awesome wine. My favourites were the Snow Mountain shiraz and the Nabygelegen 1712, their bordeaux blend. Their wines are amazingly well priced and you can order directly from the estate for delivery in Cape Town. See the website details below.

For another perspective on our visit to Nabygelegen, read this blog post by the perfect wedding date, who spent the weekend there with me.

You can view the gallery with my pictures of Nabygelegen here.

Here is the Nabygelegen website.