Lanz­erac re­nais­sance

A trip down mem­ory lane un­earths an old favourite with a five-star vi­sion for the farm and its wines

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - GOODDRINK - MYRNA ROBINS

IT STARTED as a trip down mem­ory lane. It de­vel­oped into a tour well laced with nos­tal­gia, and fin­ished on a high note of an­tic­i­pa­tory plea­sure. The Lanz­erac re­nais­sance is well un­der way and this sin­gu­lar es­tate is again a des­ti­na­tion en­com­pass­ing his­tory, beauty and warm hos­pi­tal­ity.

Some se­nior cit­i­zens may re­call trips in the six­ties to Stel­len­bosch to in­dulge in the ho­tel’s Sun­day sup­pers and cheese lunches. Some still blush when re­mem­ber­ing ses­sions in the ladies’ bar – in par­tic­u­lar the women’s cloak­room, where the out­line of a man on the back of the door was adorned with a fig leaf hinged in strate­gic po­si­tion. Warned not to lift it up, of course we all did, un­aware that it trig­gered a bell to ring in the bar. The know­ing laugh­ter that greeted our exit co­in­cided with the re­al­i­sa­tion that we were the bell-ringers.

The farm, orig­i­nally known as Schoongezicht, dates back to the late 17th cen­tury when the first vines were planted. El­iz­a­beth English, who bought the farm in 1914, hon­oured her friend, a French gen­eral, by giv­ing the farm his name, Lanz­erac. She bot­tled the first wine from es­tate grapes. More vi­nous his­tory was recorded when the Stel­len­bosch Farm­ers’ Win­ery, who had taken over vine­yard man­age­ment in 1958, made the first com­mer­cial pino­tage, the 1959 Lanz­erac. It started the rosé tra­di­tion with the same vin­tage.

By the end of the 20th cen­tury, then- owner Christo Wiese had added a mod­ern cel­lar and ne­go­ti­ated a re­turn of wine pro­duc­tion. Last year, he sold the es­tate to a Bri­tish cou­ple who ap­pointed Stein­hoff Properties to man­age it, with Boets Nel as gen­eral man­ager. Head­ing a team with a five-star vi­sion for Lanz­erac and its wine are a small group of com­mit­ted staff.

Cel­lar­mas­ter Wy­nand Late­gan and mar­ket­ing man­ager Adinda Booy­sen took me through the three ranges. The Alma Mater trio are a nod to the es­tate’s long con­nec­tion with Stel­len­bosch Univer­sity. The rosé in its tear-shaped bot­tle is back with a 2012 vin­tage, made from shi­raz and with a lit­tle mal­bec. There’s a 2012 red, mostly shi­raz, which slips down eas­ily, along with a 2013 white, fruity chenin, fin­ished with pinot blanc. The trio sell for R50 each.

There is plenty to savour in the pre­mium range, from a chardon­nay (R85) pre­sent­ing cit­rus and but­ter­scotch to the 2010 mer­lot (R105), four-star and full-bod­ied. The 2011 cab (R115) and pino­tage (R110) are also four-star, the for­mer well-bal­anced, the lat­ter well-rounded.

The Her­itage range re­veals care­ful se­lec­tion and crafts­man­ship: Mrs English is an award-win­ning chardon­nay fin­ished with pinot blanc – at R185 pricy but com­plex, poised and de­li­cious. Homage is paid to her friend with Le Gén­eral 2009 ( R235), cab- dom­i­nated with mer­lot, shi­raz and splashes of pino­tage and mal­bec. The Pionier pino­tage 2010 (R280) is equally im­pres­sive, and set to im­prove over years.

There are plans to use the manor house for more than wed­dings. The tast­ing room is to give way to a deli and bak­ery for sum­mer, and the lawn on the cel­lar roof is set to make a pic­turesque pic­nic venue.

“Oom” Manie An­tonie con­tin­ues to pre­side over the bar, with 45 years’ ser­vice to his credit.

New up­hol­stery and napery make The Gover­nor’s Hall restau­rant lighter and brighter, wor­thy of chef Stephen Fraser’s tal­ents.

Read­ing Fraser’s win­ter menu makes for a mouth­wa­ter­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. I lunched on the cheese plat­ter, en­hanced by beet­root rel­ish, pre­serves and ex­cel­lent hum­mus, and fin­ished with dessert sam­ples that made faultless fi­nales.

● The ho­tel is tempt­ing cou­ples with an overnight gas­tro­nomic ex­pe­ri­ence over the next long week­end. Fraser is join­ing Gig­gling Gourmet Jenny Mor­ris to present a three-course din­ner, on Au­gust 9, paired with es­tate wines. Break­fast the next day will be fol­lowed by a cook-off be­tween the duo, with the re­sults served for lunch. At R1 250 inclusive, it’s ad­vis­able to book early. E-mail res@lanz­ or call 021 887 1132.

HER­ITAGE EL­E­GANCE: Lanz­erac’s lounge has hosted a long list of celebri­ties and politi­cians from across the globe.

FIVE-STAR MIS­SION: Wy­nand Late­gan, cel­lar­mas­ter at Lanz­erac.

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