A love story, a family legacy, a noble title, a small hill on a historic farm looking across the ocean – all these are entwined in the story of the new De Grendel Proposal Hill Brut Rosé, an elegant vintage Pinot Noir Cap Classique released to mark the 300th anniversary of the landmark Cape farm.
In 1939, on a koppie with a clear view from the Tygerberg hills across Table Bay to the city of Cape Town and Table Mountain, framed by the setting sun, the young Sir De Villiers Graaff proposed marriage to his beloved Ena, who thus became the distinguished Lady Graaff.
Their marriage lasted 60 years, through Sir De Villiers’ service in the Second World War and as the longest-serving opposition leader in Parliament amidst the turbulence of South African apartheid-era politics, until his death in 1999. That koppie has been known ever since as Proposal Hill, and their love story inspired the naming of De Grendel’s new celebratory Cap Classique.
The maiden vintage Proposal Hill Brut Rosé 2016 is made from 100% Pinot Noir grown on the western slope of the Tygerberg hill on De Grendel, overlooked by the original homestead built by the first baronet Graaff, the vines enjoying the same view that Sir De Villiers and Lady Graaff treasured all those years ago.
These eight- to 10-year-old vineyards, cooled by the Atlantic Ocean breezes, are an ideal site for the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes that go into making De Grendel’s acclaimed Cap Classique Brut, with the same Pinot Noir grapes now also going into the new dry pink bubbly, De Grendel cellar master Charles Hopkins said.
“The market for Cap Classique in South Africa continues to grow substantially and with the success of our Brut, a customer favourite which sells out on every vintage and regularly wins awards, we believe the time is right to introduce a rosé bubbly made in the traditional way to round out the portfolio.
“It’s especially auspicious that we launch a new Cap Classique in De Grendel’s 300th anniversary year and even though now, due to the coronavirus pandemic, we cannot celebrate the anniversary with the friends of De Grendel in person as we had hoped, we will certainly be toasting the year with Proposal Hill Brut Rosé and De Grendel Brut on the farm, and we hope our loyal fans will be doing the same,” he said.
The whole-bunch pressed juice for De Grendel Proposal Hill Brut Rosé 2016 was kept on the full lees for 120 days after alcoholic fermentation and underwent malolactic fermentation in that time. The wine then underwent second fermentation in bottle, where it was matured on the lees for 24 months before disgorgement.
De Grendel Brut Rosé has all the hallmarks of a traditional, meticulously constructed Cap Classique, with the added allure of being playful and exciting, Hopkins said. Complex and with a weightier palate than the average sparkling wine, this bone-dry rosé has a fine and persistent mousse introducing hints of oyster shell and fresh lavender on the nose. Intense strawberry coulis and black cherry flavours are well-balanced by firm acidity and linger in the exceptionally long finish.
Proposal Hill Brut Rosé 2016 makes an ideal welcoming drink with canapés for summer celebrations and festive occasions, or to add sparkle to al fresco meals, a picnic or garden party. It makes for enjoyable sipping on its own as a sundowner with good company, and its fine bubbles and intense flavour will awaken the palate for pairing with food.
Bone-dry Cap Classique is one of the most versatile and food-friendly wines in the world. The dry acidity of the Proposal Hill Brut Rosé pairs exceptionally well with rich dishes such as creamy risotto, smoked salmon terrine, duck prosciutto and buttery pastries, cutting through the richness and complementing the flavours.
Salmon in all its guises – smoked, seared, sushi – is an ideal partner in flavour, colour and the sense of luxury of the Proposal Hill bubbly, says Hopkins.
Proposal Hill Brut Rosé 2016 is currently available at R280 from the De Grendel online shop at www.degrendel.co.za/collections/our-wines and the De Grendel tasting room and restaurant. The wine will be available nationally in retail and hospitality from 2021.
For more about the 300-year history of De Grendel and the Graaff family legacy: