We believe that quality and beauty in wine come from the vineyard. We’re hoping to find the voice of the land, not the mark of the winemaker.
In our vineyards much attention is payed to the farming, with an emphasis on careful pruning and suckering, diligent canopy work, and hand hoeing. We like to encourage healthy soil by cover cropping, mulching, and manuring. All our grapes are handpicked into small lug boxes and transported with care by us to our winery.
We work closely with our growers. We also have our own farm, Broom Ridge, on the Paardeberg, for which we are fully responsible.
Arbeidseind and Oudam
Skurfberg (aka Citrusdal Mountain) - Olifants Rivier
Imagine a wild open landscape, isolated, elevated, and pure. A quintessentially Cape landscape of rocky outcrops and rooibos fields, craggy mountains, and distant neighbours. This mind-blowing region is way out there in the middle of nowhere, almost 5 hours’ drive from our cellar and worth every mile.
Dry farmed old bushvines growing on red sand over red clay produce wines marked by bristling acidity and clarity of flavour, earthy minerality and natural power. Every vintage they reaffirm the extraordinary properties of this landscape. Skurfberg is now cemented as one of the Cape’s most extraordinary winegrowing areas.
We work with two farms here: The ungrafted Chenin bushvines growing at 540 m above sea-level on Arbeidseind farm produce the wine called Magnetic North. Oudam farm is close by, a little lower down at 450 m above sea-level, and produces Huilkrans. Both farms also contribute to Cartology.
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Paardeberg – granite mountain in the Swartland
The mountain itself is quite a sight. Tall granite domes tower over ridges and slopes of all aspects and elevations. There are deep kloofies and wild places high up where nobody goes. Small farmhouses and cottages dot the landscape below. Mysterious patchwork plots of agriculture are visible on distant ridges. The place has a distinctly three-dimensional feeling.
Paardeberg is the epicentre of a quality revolution that has swept the Swartland for the past two decades. Driven by a few visionary producers, the Paardeberg’s identity has been reimagined. It now produces some of the Cape’s most wonderful wines. Many formerly undervalued vineyards are now held dear.
Our farm on the Paardeberg is called Nuwedam. We have 20 Ha of unirrigated old bushvines on pure decomposed granite soils, all planted between 1972 and 1985. Low yields and tiny berries result in wines that can be textured and quite powerful, but still have a brightness and nervous energy about them. We find flavours of limey citrus, thatch, and honey on these wines. They tend to have a very linear and long form on the palate.Back to map
Firgrove - False Bay coast of Stellenbosch:
This cool southern part of Stellenbosch is very special, and in our opinion should be demarcated as a separate appellation within Stellenbosch. Its poor decomposed granite soil and constant ocean influence make for excellent wine.
Our parcels on Rustenhof farm were planted in 1978 on the upper slopes of a little granite hill called Sinai. These blocks look out over False Bay, literally close enough (4kms) to see the waves breaking on a clear day. The South-East wind is their constant companion during the summer months.
These fantastic parcels make Nautical Dawn and also play a key role in Cartology. The wines themselves usually have a terrific nose, mostly driven by yellow fruit and some soft spices. The palate is a raucous affair, unabashed flavour, ripping acidity, seasoned with salt.
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Upper Blaauwklippen - in the mountains of Stellenbosch
If you were to try your best to dream up the most beautiful wine farm in the Cape, no holds barred, you’d still fall sort of the breathtaking reality of Waterkloof farm in the Upper Blaauwkilppen Valley. Hundreds of mature trees, some centuries old, are dwarfed by blue tinted mountains so high and so impossibly close they might just fall on you. The kloof itself stretches back deep into the wilderness, its permanent stream babbling along through the property, bringing life to the remarkable gardens. I have seen grown men cry on Waterkloof, but mostly they just stand there and say: “bliksem…”.
As if the beauty wasn’t enough, just add a few hectares of dry farmed bushvine Chenin and voilà: paradise. The soils are deep red brown with plenty of gravel. The wines grown here show huge promise, tending to natural power and richness, showing flavours of stone fruit and flowers. We hope to be able to make a single origin wine from these parcels in the future once we better understand the place. Until then the wines make a stellar contribution to Cartology.
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Tygerberg - on the northern hills of Cape Town
When prospecting, every now and then you strike gold. Contermanskloof farm is tucked away in the heart of the Tygerberg (Durbanville) hills. It’s been in existence since 1706, and in the Starke family since the early 1900s. I’d never have thought that such a special place might be hidden so close to the city.
These bushvine parcels were planted in 1977 on heavy shale soils. The vines are big and gnarly, low yielding but still in good condition. The South-West facing slope is quite steep, looking back toward Table Mountain. Standing there, it’s easy to imagine those early farmers of long-ago growing produce for the passing ships and the burgeoning settlement.
There’s terrific depth to the wine – a low seismic rumble of earthy, salty/sweet flavours and substantial texture. It contributes palate weight and depth to Cartology. This is not a crisp and springy Chenin. This is high-fidelity shale.
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Bottelary Hills - northern part of Stellenbosch
We love the Bottelary hills. Since the outset, we have always had something going on here. These hills were home to Radio Lazarus, our original single vineyard wine. This is a great area for growing Chenin blanc.
Sterhuis farm abounds in very steep slopes. You need a 4×4 here. We have a very steep parcel of bushvine Chenin growing next to a wild olive kloof. The soil is granite with some shale. We often find a kind of dusty/gravel road minerality here. These wines usually have very good concentration, sappy fruit and almost always some kind of fynbos, soft green herbal note. This parcel lends depth and weight to Cartology.
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Malmesbury – iron red hills of the Swartland
The Chenin blanc vineyard on Nuweland is typical of large-scale plantings that were popular during the co-operative era: a relatively huge 17Ha block of dryland bushvine Chenin panted in 1981 and 1982. The deep red soil is derived from granite and shale. In some places it almost looks purple.
Don’t let the huge vineyard thing fool you. Some of the Cape’s best vineyards are huge old beasts that were planted with volume production in mind. Now with vine age and low yields, great sites like Nuweland produce compelling wine. Think ripe apple and lemon rind with serious structure and substance on the palate. Nuweland is an extremely reliable site. It never seems to have an “off vintage”. This vineyard contributes good structure and acidity to Cartology.Back to map
La Colline farm
Franschhoek – mountain slopes
When most people think of Franschhoek, they think of a beautiful little town surrounded by even more beautiful mountains. Not many people know that Franschhoek is the capital of old vine Sémillon in the Cape. For wine people, these parcels are a bit of a national treasure.
La Colline is the name of a fruit farm on the southern slopes of the Dassenberg and is home to one of the true greats of Cape heritage vineyards. The vines were planted in 1936 by Antonie Roux, the grandfather of the current farmer Anton Roux. It’s situated between 310 and 350 m above sea-level on quartz rich sandstone and granite soil. During summer, these tightly planted bushvines form a wild looking mess of life and grapes. In winter, they resemble a crowd of drunkards cartwheeling across the slope. It is a beautiful old thing.
These vines are related to the original vineyard material brought to the Cape in the mid-1600s. Generations of farmers selecting their plants over centuries has led to some unique genetics: parcels of vines like this have several different colours of Sémillon growing side by side in a gnarly mess of vine wood: Gris, Rose, Blanc, Vert at the very least. This is very Cape DNA.
The wine is wonderfully deep, savoury sweet, citrus and almonds, herbs and honey. It adds complexity and depth to Cartology, and also stands alone as one of our best wines: Monument Sémillon.Back to map
Hemel & Aarde Ridge – cool climate in the Overberg
Hemelrand is special to us because this is ground zero, where our project started and still resides. It’s situated on the cold and windy Hemel & Aarde Ridge at 360 meters above sea level on gravelly clay and sandstone. Viticulturally speaking this is a marginal site, the upside of which is slow ripening with high natural acidity. Hemelrand is meticulously farmed by Hans Evenhuis and his team, hence the name Vine Garden.
The vineyard was planted in 2010 to Chardonnay, Roussanne, Verdelho, Chenin blanc, and Muscat Blanc a petit grain – one place expressed by a few different grapes. The proportions of the different grapes produced varies each vintage. The idea is to bottle the wine just as the vineyard produces it, effectively creating a white field blend that changes every year as the season dictates. The wine is always remarkable and continues to gain in stature as the vines mature.
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