All is far from lost at Allesverloren

"While its past is reflected in its sad name, but since the current incumbents took occupation, things have been far from 'all is lost' on Allesverloren, the oldest wine estate in the Swartland," says wine columnist Michael Olivier.

by: Michael Olivier | 17 May 2007

Danie and Juanita Malan held a lunch recently to launch a vintage port – The Allesverloren Vintage Reserve Port 1997. The standard Allesverloren Port is well known and loved throughout South Africa.

This one is a declared vintage and has been lying aging gracefully in Tulbagh in the tender loving care of the legendary Frans du Toit, a man so addicted to detail tells Danie Malan, that 'he sweeps his footsteps away from behind him when he leaves the cellar in the evening.'

A blend of seven traditional port varietals with names like Malvasia Rey and Souzao – just overcomes you with wave upon wave of sweet sun ripened raisins (there are 81 grams of residual sugar per litre), coffee, chocolate, ripe red and black berries, blood plums and toasted almonds, Christmas pudding and gently warming alcohol at nearly 18%. With vanilla coming through from the barrels in which the wine was aged for two years, before spending eight years in the bottle.

The wine is dryer than Danie’s usual port and a sparkling ruby in colour rather than tawny. One of the interesting facts about the Allesverloren Port Vineyards is that they are planted, mixed according to the blend. There are thirteen port varietals planted on Allesverloren where sweet wine records go back to 1806. An excellent harvest in 1997 said Danie, with 6mm rain in December and the grapes picked in April.

A superb lunch was presented in the old farmstead by Anel Joubert of the Kasteelberg Restaurant in Riebeeck Kasteel. A meal any fine dining city restaurant would have been proud to serve.

Anel matched two of the port varietals which Danie makes as single varietal dry red wines to two dishes. The Allesverloren Touriga Naçional was served with a Springbok Terrine with a preserve of Smyrna Figs which carried a gentle brush of chili.

The wine offered rich dusty cassis and dark fruit with lots of extract, with delicious pepper and herbs and vanilla spice which tackled head on the balsamic reduction and the fig preserve and was a perfect platform for the terrine. The wine dealt well with both the green and black peppercorns in the terrine. 'There’s no benchmark Touriga to match,' said Danie, 'wine should be wine and not fruit juice, I want to make a wine that can mature.'

A duck confit with potato mash very gently flavoured with truffle oil. In my opinion this is a feat in itself, as most chefs seem to overdose heavily on the truffle, which is so aromatic that if used in excess it drowns all other flavours. There was a savoury reduction of the Allesverloren Tinta Barocca trickled around it and the wine was served with the duck – a perfect marriage, the wine made for the duck.

Danie and Juanita are consummate hosts and regaled us with stories of trips to Sweden, relatives past, the legacy left him by his father and the activities on the estate which can be viewed by visiting their website

I had a feeling that the path is smoothed for the next generation as I was charmingly and graciously entertained by Fanie Malan, now 12, whose ability to converse in English – not his home language – with a complete stranger and keep me company enchanted me to the core.

Michael Olivier trained at The London Cordon Bleu Cookery School and is a well known food and wine fundi. He convenes the Diners Club Wine List of the Year Awards with his friend Michael Bamfield-Duggan. To find our more about Michael and tap into his vast knowledge of wine go to

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