Visiting Anthonij Rupert Wyne, L’Ormarins Estate, Franschhoek, South Africa
Website: Anthonij Rupert Wyne
Antonij Rupert is the wine project based at L’Ormarins estate on the eastern boundary of Franschhoek, and is owned by Johann Rupert. The Rupert family have been very important in shaping the modern South African wine scene, and this is the jewel in their crown.
Anton Rupert became very wealthy through the Richemont and Remgro groups of companies, which include luxury goods (the former) and industrial concerns. But he also had an interest in wine. In the 1960s he invested in the Stellenbosch Farmers Winery (which is now Distell), an important wine collective involving a number of farmers. Their seed money became shares which today are worth a lot.
Anton had three children: Johann, Hanneli and Anthonij, and he gave each of them a wine farm. Johann got Fredericksberg, Hanneli got La Motte and Anthonij got L’Ormarins. Because Johann was busy with a banking career, he asked the wine-inclined Anthonij to look after Fredericksberg.
Anthonij had studied at Geisenheim along with the likes of Danie De Wet and Jean Boland Coetzee, and he was also friends with the son of Baron Edmund de Rothschild. So a partnership, Rupert & Rothschild, was started based on the Fredericksberg farm. He also built a wine cellar at L’Ormarins cellar in the late 1980s, and the Ormarins wines began winning lots of awards.
In 2001 Anthonij died in a car crash. Johann, then working in the luxury goods business with Richemont, took over, and dedicated the farm to his brother – hence the name Anthonij Rupert.
Hanneli carried on with La Motte and Leopard’s Leap wineries, which are both based in Franschhoek. Johann’s decided to finish Anthonij’s project, and his quest at L’Ormarins was to produce some of South Africa’s best wines. He soon realized that with one property in Franschhoek he was limited, so he hired Rosa Kruger to source promising vineyards to supplement the Franschhoek grapes. She worked here for around eight years, and this is when the Cape of Good Hope range was born.
The notes here are based on two tastings at the farm together with Treve Ring (TR). The most recent (September 2022) was with Dawie Botha (chief winemaker) and Vernon van der Hofen (red winemaker). The other member of the team not present was white winemaker, Mark Van Buuren, who we caught up with later. And I’ve also added notes from a tasting in November 2019.
Altogether the winery processes 2700 tons. L’Ormarins is the main red farm (for the Bordeaux style wines). There’s also the Altima farm at high-altitude in Elandskloof, one in Darling, and the Riebeeksrivier farm in the Swartland. With a couple other smaller farms this makes around 350 hectares in total.
L’Ormarins Brut Rosé Cap Classique 2017 Western Cape
13% alcohol. Pale pink in colour, this is taut and bright with grapefruit, redcurrant and a hint of pepper, showing good acidity and a hint of pith. There’s crispness here with good purity, and although there’s fruit it seems quite dry in character. Nice acidity here which leaves a fresh impression. 89/100 (JG)
This Pinot Noir / Chardonnay blend comes from Elandskloof and Darling fruit, with 24 months on lees and 5 months on cork prior to release. Pale in hue, with, light strawberry, and tight lemon across a great buzzy base, finishing with a fine chalky finish. Smart. 90/100 (TR)
L’Ormarins Blanc de Blancs Cap Classique 2017
High altitude vineyards in Elandskloof, plus Robertson and Darling. Lively, fine and crystalline citrus fruits. Has purity and focus, with a touch of sweetness on the finish. Very fine and expressive with nice texture. 91/100 (JG)
From higher altitude vineyards in Elandskloof, Robertson, and Darling, this Chardonnay BdB was 10% barrel fermented (1% new wood) with no MLF, and 3-4 years on lees. Red apple, green toast and lees is lifted with lemon pith and lees around a sweet fruit core. Quite posh. 91/100 (TR)
Jean Roi Cap Provincial Rosé 2022 Riebeeks Rivier, South Africa
A blend of Grenache, Cinsault and Shiraz. 14% in old oak. Lovely texture here, made in a Provence style with a textured palate showing watermelon and cherry with some white pepper. Very expressive and textural with really nice character and personality. 93/100 (JG)
Named for the first owner of this farm, Jean Roi, this Swartland rosé blends Grenache, Cinsault (1990 planted bush vine) and Shiraz, whole bunch pressed and fermented primarily in steel, with 14% in older oak, over 4 months on lees. Pale and silky on the elegant, medium-bodied palate, shaped by a bitter orange edge, and finishing with lovely tangerine pithiness. 90/100 (TR)
Die Ou Boostok Chenin Blanc 2020 Franschhoek
Originally these vines were planted in 1964 in Swartland, and then were rescued and transplanted in 2007 to the farm. Take was 75%, 1m x 1m root system. Underground dripper system was installed. Initially this was designed to be a tourist vineyard, and they dropped the crop until the roots had regrown enough (they added bits of terracotta to act as a water trap in the hole, which helps keep the roots supplied). But now they are getting 600-1000 litres a year. This is powerful and textured with intense citrus and pear fruit as well as some rich pear and peach. It’s grainy and spicy with lovely detail and stony minerality. Layered and fine, with honeycomb and citrus. 94/100 (JG)
Translating as The Old Vines, this was a massive transport project, with old vines planted in 1964 uprooted from Paardeberg, in the Swartland, and replanted at the Franschhoek farm in 2007. The project had a 75% success rate, and was originally designed to be more a visual feature than a viable working vineyard. However, the concentrated, old yield fruit proved so special, that a tiny cuvée was created, only about 600L / year. This spent 8 months on lees, half in 3rd / 4th year barrels and the remainder in stainless (around 40% MLF). Very textural, with lemon, pith, green apple, honeycomb across a silken mouthfeel, with gentle flake salts lingering on the finish. 92/100 (TR)
Cape of Good Hope Altima Sauvignon Blanc 2020 Elandskloof
This high altitude Sauvvy is planted on decomposed shale, at 600-850m. The destemmed and crushed fruit spent a night on skins before a stainless ferment and four months on lees. Lemon verbena, lime pith, Asian pear lead this punchy, fruit forward white, with a buzzy underlay and an easy silken elegance. 90/100 (TR)
Cape of Good Hope Chenin Blanc Van Lill 2021 Citrusdal Mountain
The soil is two metres of sand over clay. Half taken for this wine and the other half goes to Eben. 60% stainless steel, 40% old oak. 12.9% alcohol. This is fresh and focused with a spicy, mineral thread under pure citrus and pear fruit. There’s a lovely saltiness here: it has purity and focus but also a twist of grapefruit and green tea. Really interesting. 94/100 (JG)
They share this dry farmed bush vine Citrusdal Mountain Chenin, planted in 1983 at 550m on sandy loams, with Eben Sadie. Quite potent up front, with lemon thistle, floral, white peach, pear skin on an expansive and silken palate. 91/100 (TR)
Cape of Good Hope Laing Groendruif 2021 Citrusdal Mountain
This is Semillon, planted in 1956. Dryland bushvines planted 4 m apart on sandy soils. 60% tank and 40% old oak, with some 500 litre barrels. This has lots of interest: quite pure citrus and pear fruit, with a touch of mandarin. Lovely detail here with some real finesse. Lovely saline notes with well integrated acidity, showing lots of mid-palate detail. 94/100 (JG)
Groendruif translates as Green Grape, and is an Afrikaans term for Sémillon. These dryland bush vines were planted in 1956, with wide spacing. This spent 1 year on lees, 60^ in 3rd and 4th fill 500L barrels. Lemon verbena, green apple, waxen pear rule this textural Sém, though the lingering saline finish. Lovely presence and flow here. 93/100 (TR)
Cape of Good Hope Caroline Riebeeksrivier 2020
Old bush vine Chenin, plus newer Marsanne and Rousanne as well as some Picpoul Blanc and Viognier. Stainless steel, old foudres and small old oak. Grainy, textured and layered with pear and peach notes as well as chalk and minerals. There’s a touch of mint here as well as a lovely stony finish. This has a beautiful texture, with flavour but also freshness. 93/100 (JG)
Named for Johan Rupert’s eldest daughter, this is a full bodied and textural blend of Marsanne, Roussanne, Chenin Blanc, Picpoul and Viognier. This spent 11 months on lees in stainless, foudre and 500L barrels. Very floral and fragrant, with honeysuckle, white peach, ripe pear on a downy, spiced palate. 90/100 (TR)
Cape of Good Hope Riebeeksrivier Western Slopes 2017 Swartland
The farm has two slopes. The Western is mostly schist, and the Southern is mostly clay soils. Western is mostly Syrah (90%) with a bit of Grenache, and sometimes a bit of Carignan but not this year. Some meat and pepper here with fresh berry fruits. There’s some sweetness and generosity but also a bit of freshness. Lovely focus on the fruit here. 93/100 (JG)
They have 2 slopes on this Swartland farm, with the western facing on schist and shale. This is predominantly staked vine Syrah, with 10% Grenache, fermented in a mix of nico velo, stainless, and older barrel. Layers of leather, dried cherry and black raspberry are woven throughout this peppery wine, with lovely stony freshness and finely structured tannins. Nice purity and wildness. 92/100 (TR)
Cape of Good Hope Riebeeksrivier Southern Slopes 2017 Swartland
Clay soils, with Syrah (60%), Mouvedre and Petite Syrah. 1% Viognier cofermented with one of the blocks. Intense and liqueur-like on the nose with sweet, pure black cherry and blackberry fruit, with some peach/apricot richness and floral character. Seamless with nice purity. Has a bit of pepper too. Intriguing and expressive. 93/100 (JG)
Planted on the clay soiled southern facing slopes of their Riebeeksrivier vineyard, this blend of 60% Syrah, Mourvèdre, and Durif had 1% Viognier cofermented. Sultry and ripe darker fruit is perfumed with darts of violet, and bedded with dark earth, cured meats and leather on a fuller palate. 91/100 (TR)
Antonij Rupert Optima 2018 Western Cape
First made in 1968 at the Stellenbosch farmers winery, Bergkelder. Along with Rubicon this was the first South African wine that was made in imported French oak. Bordeaux-style blend, aged in French oak (30% new). Dawie Botha says, ‘there’s a stylistic golden thread that needs to be in Optima vintage after vintage.’ He’s looking for red fruit, dark fruit, voluptuous tannins and good concentration. ‘You paid R230 but it must taste like R500.’ Concentrated blackcurrant fruit with some firm structure, notes of gravel and chalk, and nice weight. The 2018 was 300 000 litres, so this is admirable quality for this production level, and it sells for R230. The Merlot is fermented in Nico Velo and adds a lot to the blend. There’s also some foudre here. 93/100 (JG)
This well known Bordeaux blend was first made in 1968. This year it’s 1/3 each Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, with 20 months’ rest in 225L barrels (30% new) as well as some nico velo, foudre, and stainless. Sultry dark florals, wild blackberry, black cherry rule the juicy core, firmly sided by tannins, and with a lingering medicinal kirsch on the textural finish. 92/100 (TR)
Antonij Rupert Cabernet Franc 2016 Coastal Region
14.5% alcohol. 90% Ormarins, 10% Darling. Optical sorted and fermented in 10 ton wooden fermenters, aged 22 months in French oak. 50% new oak. Dark and gravelly with a hint of mint and then some sweet blackberry fruit, with complex tea, herb and spice notes. Brooding and dark with a savoury twist to the fruit. Finishes dry. 92/100 (JG)
Wild black cherry, black raspberry, red liquorice rule this textural and wild Cab Franc, seasoned with toasted spice and imbued with a lovely scrubby tea leaf florality. Primarily Ormarins fruit, with 10% from Darling, and 22 months in French oak (50% new). 93/100 (TR)
Cabernet Sauvignon 2017 Coastal Region
13.5% alcohol. Some Darling fruit in the mix, and 50% new oak. Intense and structured, with ripe blackcurrant and black cherry fruit, with some subtle balsamic notes and Mediterranean herbs. Very stylish in a sort of supertuscan style. 94/10 (JG)
Structural and dusty, with black fruit, anise, dark earth, charcoal and firmly gritty and unyielding tannins even at this stage. L’ormarins fruit, with 5% from Darling. 91/100 (TR)
Cape of Good Hope Serruria Chardonnay 2019 Elandskloof
13.5% alcohol. Bright and linear with some nut and toast, and a hint of creaminess, as well as lively lemony fruit. Juicy and expressive, with layers of complexity over a keen citrus base. Crystalline and well defined. 94/100 (JG)
Antonij Rupert Merlot 2016 Coastal Region
14.5% alcohol. Nice concentration here: this is gravelly and refined with sweet cherry and blackcurrant fruit, with good structure allied to ripe fruit, but also with a lovely stony, savoury edge. Made in a classic old-world style but with ripe fruit, and a slightly drying finish. I really like this. 93/100 (JG)
Older notes from November 2019, tasted at the farm with Gareth Robertson, marketing manager.
Cape of Good Hope Altima Sauvignon Blanc 2018 Elandskloof
675 m altitude. Very precise and intense with nice green hints and some bright tropical hints. Has good concentration of flavour with nice depth. Such density and precision with nice juiciness and good acidity. Has layers of flavour. 91/100 (R130)
Cape of Good Hope Laing Groendruif 2016 Citrusdalberg
This is Semillon from 70 year old bushvines on the top of the Skurfberg. This is powerful, elegant and toasty with some subtle green herb notes. Crystalline and expressive with grapefruit and pear, and a lovely nutty, toasty, lanolin depth. Lots of interest here, with layers of flavour. 94/100 (R120)
Cape of Good Hope Serruria Chardonnay 2017 Elandskloof
Portion in stainless, and some in large foudres. Fresh, detailed and elegant with nice precision. This has a good acid line with very subtle toast and spice notes as well as delicate white peach and pear notes. This is so refined and expressive with a lovely mineral edge and great finesse. 95/100 (R260)
Cape of Good Hope Caroline 2016 Riebeeksrivier, Swartland
Property in the Swartland with schist on one side, and clay on the other. Had old Cinsualt and Chenin. They replanted it with Rhône varieties, some Picpoul, and different clones of Syrah, Carignan and Mourvedre. Lots of sur echalas planting. Mainly old vine Chenin with Marsanne, Roussanne and a bit of Viognier. Mainly foudre, with a bit of stainless steel Really fresh and precise with lovely juiciness and focus. Has some peach, some table grape, and nice lemon and herb notes, as well as a twist of apple. There’s a little richness, but also some bright acidity. Such precision and detail. 93/100 (R240)
Jean Roi Cap Provincial Rosé 2017 Coastal Region
Mainly Cinsault with some Mourvedre, Grenache and Syrah, one hour on the skins. Second vintage. Very pale in colour. Focused and fresh with a hint of mandarin and bright citrus and pear fruit. Juicy and delicious, and dry and quite gastronomic, but with some prettiness. Delicate and fine. 92/100 (R240)
Anthonij Rupert Optima 2015 Coastal Region
120 000 bottles of this. Has some Darling fruit in it. Sweetly fruited with some savoury complexity, showing some gravel and chalk notes as well as blackcurrant and ripe berry fruits. Softly structured with good concentration. Mellow and quite refined with nice depth of fruit, and some savoury complexity. Satisfying stuff. 91/100
Anthonij Rupert Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 Franschhoek
11 barrels. Nice concentration here, with a savoury, spicy, grippy edge to the blackcurrant fruit. Has some freshness but also a sterner, more savoury, structured edge. Rich and opulent but not too polished. Blackcurrant bud notes on the finish. 93/100
Anthonij Rupert Syrah 2014 Franschhoek
Planted sur echalas (each vine on its own pole) which works much better here on this windy spot on top of the farm. Fleshy and quite lush with broad, sleek blackberry and cherry fruit. Has a softness to the mid palate with melted tannins. Has some peppery hints in the background. Nice grip. 92/100
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