Van Loveren produces one of the best-loved wines in South Africa – the Four Cousins range named in honour of the Retief boys who own the winery. But a couple of years ago, they appointed the first non-family winemaker, Danelle van Rensburg from Raka Wines in Walker Bay, with the brief of transforming the top ranges into award-winners, whilst still offer outstanding value for money.
A tall order in anyone’s book, but one which she is taking increasingly in her stride. Since her arrival in 2007, Danelle has achieved VL’s first Veritas Double Gold in ten years for her Wolverine
Creek Reserve Chardonnay and has made the finals of the Women Winemaker of the Year competition on two occasions. Her first success was with the reserve Shiraz and, with a view to improving it even further, she has now decided to tweak the recipe by adding another dimension.
Which leads us to the new wine on the menu at Van Loveren – their first Viognier. Viognier has some pretty powerful flavours so rather than overwhelm the Shiraz by making a full blend of the two varietals, Danelle is only using the skins just to add a little extra perfume. This leaves her with a delicious by-product - a light and delicately fruity white wine without all the heavy, thick, oily flavours which you can sometimes get with this variety. She’s pretty happy with it – for the moment - but I think she is planning some changes before it joins the VL range on a permanent basis. For the foreseeable future, it’s only available from Van Loveren itself at a bargain-busting R61 a bottle
Great-value wines, lush gardens, complimentary snacks on a Saturday, bottles of wine left on the tasting tables for you to pour for yourself (whoops – perhaps that is why we ended up buying so much!), chatty winemakers, a cute dog (named Ruby, as she arrived on the day the Ruby Cabernet was brought in!) and now a new and exclusive vinous star. Go and visit the family down on the farm – I promise you’ll be pleased you did.