Fine Wines

South African Country Life - - In This Issue - Eugene van Zyl of Leop­ard’s Leap

Meet wine­maker Eugene van Zyl of Leop­ard’s Leap

Eugene was born in Gra­ham­stown in 1949, one of three broth­ers all con­nected to the agri­cul­tural in­dus­try. “Wine was very much a part of our life­style.” He started off by study­ing de­cid­u­ous-fruit tech­nol­ogy at Stel­len­bosch, where, dur­ing his sec­ond year he was ex­posed to the sci­ence of viti­cul­ture and oenol­ogy. “It grabbed my whole be­ing, hence the change of study course to the lat­ter.” His first job was as as­sis­tant re­searcher at Ni­etvoor­bij (Re­search In­sti­tute for Viti­cul­ture and Oenol­ogy) then as a lec­turer and, later, head of the cel­lar tech­nol­ogy course at Elsen­burg. Fol­low­ing some years as a con­sul­tant for var­i­ous wine farms, he moved to Leop­ard’s Leap. He and his wife Marisca live in Stel­len­bosch where she has just been ap­pointed wine mar­keter at a bou­tique win­ery. Eugene says he loves to cook, “Draw­ing in­spi­ra­tion from trav­els as well as our amaz­ing chef Pi­eter de Jager at Leop­ard’s Leap Fam­ily Vine­yards.” Hob­bies in­clude mo­tor­cy­cling and scuba div­ing so hol­i­days are, “For the mo­tor­cy­cle, wher­ever the dust road leads us; as for the rest, we seek out far-off places, se­cluded, mostly unique div­ing spots.”

A“With the most amaz­ing ter­roir vari­a­tions in­clud­ing slopes, al­ti­tudes, ocean in­flu­ences and in­ter­est­ing soil types, we are able to pro­duce some of the best wines in the world

t Leop­ard’s Leap in Fran­schhoek, wine is made for drink­ing, for quaffing lib­er­ally, and for im­bib­ing with food, an an­cient part­ner­ship. They have deftly man­aged to pull off mak­ing wine drink­ing not a trip to the lofty halls of pre­cious­ness, but an ad­junct to daily life. One will not hear much swill­ing and sniff­ing of the glass in their tast­ing room, only many sighs of con­tent­ment as one takes it all in in re­laxed, el­e­gantly mod­ern sur­round­ings.

They know that wine is one of life’s great plea­sures but it does not have to be a mys­tery. The grapes for th­ese ex­cel­lently priced wines are sourced all over the Western Cape and the re­sult is a col­lec­tion of em­i­nently drink­able wines that will not break the bank. Wine­maker Eugene van Zyl has been there since 2002, mak­ing sure that qual­ity is achieved vin­tage af­ter vin­tage. He says, “With the most amaz­ing ter­roir vari­a­tions in­clud­ing slopes, al­ti­tudes, ocean in­flu­ences and in­ter­est­ing soil types, we are able to pro­duce some of the best wines in the world.” He trav­els ex­ten­sively, say­ing, “It is im­por­tant to fol­low the routes of wine­mak­ing in Europe, and their ex­po­sure to New World wine­mak­ing coun­tries.” The own­ers of the setup, Hein Koege­len­berg and his wife Han­nelie, must be chuffed that it is all com­ing to­gether so won­der­fully. There are reg­u­lar hands-on cooking classes in which en­thu­si­as­tic food­ies can en­rol, al­ways with a glass of wine in hand of course, and sup­port for the Cape Leop­ard Trust is in­te­gral to ev­ery­thing that hap­pens at Leop­ard’s Leap.

Mer­lot 2016 Deep dark red fruits like mul­ber­ries and plums, even a grape or two lingering, make this a cracker Mer­lot. R52 Roast sir­loin and pota­toes a match made in heaven

Shi­raz 2015 Medium bod­ied, de­li­ciously spicy with just the right amount of tan­nins and wood to sup­port all that fruit. R52 At its best at a braai with grilled meats

Chardon­nay Pinot Noir 2017 De­light­fully pink with aro­mas of cit­rus on the nose and in the mouth, packed with the fresh­ness of sum­mer. R46 Mag­nif­i­cent with roast duck or sushi

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