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The wines of  Delheim Estate, Stellenbosch, South Africa

 PO Box 10, Knorhoek Road, 7605 Koelenhoef, South Africa
Tel: (+27) 21 882 2033 Fax: (+27) 21 882 2036
E-mail: delheim@delheim.com Website: www.delheim.com
UK agent: Whittaker Wines (020 8878 2302) 

Delheim’s origins as a wine estate go back to the 1930s when it was purchased by Hans Otto Hohsenhein and his wife Deli (hence ‘Delheim’, for ‘Deli’s home’). In 1951 their nephew Spatz Sperling moved from Germany to help out with the estate. In 1957 the property was turned over to Spatz on a profit-sharing basis. Subsequent acquisitions have expanded the vineyard area to an impressive 170 ha.

Victor Sperling (Spatz’ son and now in charge at this estate) presented this impressive array of wines. Delheim seem to have made some strides forward in recent years and I was impressed by the overall quality.

Chardonnay Sur Lie 2001
First vintage. Youthful, rich nutty nose with vivid, intense fruit and some tanky boiled sweets character. The palate shows a good intensity of nutty/herby fruit and a rounded texture. An impressive wine with great density of fruit and good balance: the oak is very much in the background. Very good/excellent

Merlot 2000
Delheim are trying to make a lighter, fruit-driven style. Quite an attractive spicy nose leads to a lovely textured savoury/spicy palate with restrained but ripe fruit. Good intensity and concentration. Not overdone at all. Very good+

Cabernet Sauvignon 2000
Quite a rich, intense nose with some sweetness to the berry fruit and a herby, liquoricey edge. Lovely mid-weight palate with lots of herb-tinged, warm ripe fruit and a touch of caramel. Quite elegant and with good acidity. Nice weight here. Very good/excellent

Pinotage 2000
This has been included in the ASBA top 10 Pinotage selection for the last three years. Very dense red/black colour. Attractive meaty, savoury nose with some sweet herbiness to the fruit. The palate displays a lovely meaty, savoury intensity to the palate with a bit of green olive character. A brilliant interpretation of this unusual grape. Very good/excellent

Grand Reserve 1999
Spends 18 months in small barrels; 100% Cabernet Sauvignon this vintage, but sometimes there’s a little Merlot. Very forward, intense nose with lots of spicy oak. Firm, chunky, spicy tannic palate with vivid chalky fruit. Really impressive and very structured at the moment. Very good/excellent

Grand Reserve 1998
Intense, sweet cassis and savoury spicy notes on the nose, which is starting to open out. Lovely soft texture to the fruit on the palate which exhibits new oak integrating well with the berry fruit. Ambitious and works very well. Very good/excellent

Vera Cruz Estate Shiraz 1999
From a 2 ha parcel of vines. Sweet creamy edge to the vivid fruit on the nose. Some spiciness too. Quite modern palate which displays sweet fruit and some savoury, spicy, meaty character. A little bit in limbo between the spicy new world style and a more traditional meaty style. Very good+

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wines tasted May 2002; article published October 2002