Waterford Estate
Focus on Stellenbosch, South Africa's most famous wine region, part 2

Website: www.waterfordestate.co.za 

Waterford's Kevin Arnold

Next stop in my Stellenbosch journey was Waterford Estate, my first visit here.

Kevin Arnold began Waterford Estate 12 years ago. He’d previously been winemaker at Rust en Vrede, and found a partner willing to invest in a new project. The partner, Jeremy Ord, had made money from a Johannesburg-based IT company. ‘He helped me fulfil my dream, to build and plant a winery and vineyard,’ says Arnold.

The 120 hectare Stellenbosch estate, with 50 hectares of vineyards, was previously part of the Stellenrust farm. 11 red grape varieties were planted, because Kevin wanted to explore which varieties worked best, rather than just copying everyone else. ‘Traditional Cabernet blends have been done: there is so much more to do.’ The terroir here isn’t soil, but more just rock and stone. ‘It’s very challenging viticulturally, but very rewarding,’ says Arnold.

There has been no acidification in the winery since 2004, which is unusual for Stellenbosch. ‘This has made us more aware of our expression of terroir,’ reveals Arnold. ‘Acidification creates an imbalance that sometimes you never get right.’

Kevin, until recently assisted by winemaker Francois Haasbroek (who has just left to go it alone), is clearly a thoughtful winemaker. There are lots of interesting projects, and experiments, taking place here, such as a solera system Chenin Blanc.


Waterford Estate Sauvignon Blanc Single Vineyard 2010 Stellenbosch, South Africa
Lively and precise with nice acidity and some minerality. There’s a bit of richness and green herbal notes lurk in the background. Precise and assertive. 90/100

Waterford Estate Chardonnay Single Vineyard 2011 Stellenbosch, South Africa
Intense fig, peach and pear nose. Lively and aromatic. Sweet textured and fruity palate with bready notes as well as peachy fruit. Generous but not fat. 92/100

Waterford Estate Chardonnay Single Vineyard 2007 Stellenbosch, South Africa
Golden colour. Textured, nutty and rich with peach and pear fruit. Boldly flavoured and evolving nicely. Still precise. 92/100

Waterford Estate The Library Collection SBS 2007 Stellenbosch, South Africa
71% Semillon, 29% Sauvignon Blanc, with overnight skin contact. Yellow gold in colour, this has sweet aromatics, with notes of honey, nuts, flowers and herbs. Rich, boldly textured palate shows sweet, intense, ripe fruity with pear and spice, as well as some oxidative notes. Quite unique: textured, rich and complex. 93/100

Waterford Estate The Library Collection VSBC 2007 South Africa
50% Viognier (from the Swartland), 36% Sauvignon Blanc, 14% Chenin Blanc. Complex, rich, nutty, spicy nose with some honeyed richness and notes of melon and pear. The palate is bold and ripe with rich texture and a savoury spicy tang. Very bold and intense, almost viscous. 91/100

Waterford Estate The Library Collection Antique CB NV Stellenbosch, South Africa
‘I think Chenin Blanc is a very exciting variety,’ says Kevin Arnold. ‘I’m looking for new pays to push the flavour button. We have ended up being too stereotyped in our approach.’ This Chenin is a non-vintage wine made in a solera system. Golden colour. Intense, sweet, spicy nose of apricot, tangerine, nuts and hay. Powerful, exotic palate is firm and rich with a viscous mouthfeel and notes of nuts, herbs, hay and spice, with citrus and apricot on the finish. It’s from 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2004 vintages, and there’s a little bit of botrytis in here. 94/100

Waterford Pinot Noir 2010 Elgin, South Africa
The fruit comes from Shannon’s vineyards in Elgin. Supple, sweet and precise with elegant black cherry fruit and a savoury twist. There’s a bit of grip on the finish. Lovely sweet texture. Smooth and quite pure: purity is the key here. 92/100

Waterford Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 Stellenbosch, South Africa
Smooth, sweet blackcurrant fruit nose with an elegant gravelly edge. Fine with a hint of undergrowth. The palate is ripe with lovely purity of fruit. Ripe but restrained with elegant gravelly notes. Drink soon, I reckon. 92/100

Waterford Kevin Arnold Shiraz 2008 Stellenbosch, South Africa
11% Mourvèdre. Ripe, sweet, meaty black fruits nose. Sweet and beguiling. The palate is very polished and textured with smooth ripe dark fruits and some meatiness. Rich and seductive, but balanced. 93/100

Waterford Estate The Jem 2007 Stellenbosch, South Africa
This high-end red retails at 680 Rand a bottle. 9000 bottles were made in 2007, and current production is 15 000 bottles. The theory is north meets south, in that nine different red varieties are used here. South is sunshine and warmth; north is austerity and greener tannins. ‘The Jem is about elegance and finesse, not just winemaker egos and wow-factor wines,’ says Kevin Arnold. Sweet, lifted berry fruits nose leads to a supple, lush, complex palate. There’s ripe cherry, plums, spice and blackberry here, made in a lush, seductive style. Needs time to integrate? 92/100

Waterford Estate The Jem 2004 Stellenbosch, South Africa
Sweetly aromatic with ripe cherry, plum and blackberry fruit as well as some warm spicy notes. The palate is ripe, lush and quite textured with open black fruits and notes of spice, tar and soy sauce. Ripe and quite complex. 94/100

Waterford Estate Library Collection BB 2004 Stellenbosch, South Africa
BB stands for Bordeaux blend, and this has a lush gravelly nose that’s both sweet and savoury. The palate is ripe and dense showing blackcurrant and blackberry with some spicy gravelly notes. Sweet textured and nicely savoury. 91/100

Waterford Estate Library Collection MB 2004 Stellenbosch, South Africa
MB = Mediterranean blend. It’s Shiraz, Mourvèdre, Sangiovese and Barbera. Warm, sweetly aromatic berry and black fruits nose. Ripe and a bit meaty with some herby notes. The palate is supple and ripe with nicely sweet fruit. Lush but well balanced with a hint of mint. 92/100


Part 1, Waterkloof
Part 2, Waterford
part 3, Reyneke
Part 4, Kanonkop
Part 5, Rustenberg
Part 6, Meerlust
Part 7, Delheim
Part 8, Thelema
Part 9, Neil Ellis

Part 10, Tokara
Part 11, Oldenburg

Wines tasted 03/12  
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