Boschendal, an important South African winery


Boschendal is an important winery for South Africa, filling in that important space between big brand and boutique. These are fine wines but made to fit larger retail channels as well as specialist retailers. And of late, the top Boschendal wines have done very well in comparative tastings. I met with Boschendal’s Cap Classique winemaker Danielle Coetsee who gave up her Saturday morning to taste through the current releases with me at the farm.

‘12 years ago we started with premiumization,’ says Danielle, ‘being more site selective.’  They have concentrated on Helderberg in Stellenbosch, Elgin and also Fryer’s Cove on the west coast.

‘One of the big things we are focusing on is farming for the future,’ she says. They have 140 ha in Helderberg on long-term contract, focusing on the South and Southwest, and they have three farms. ‘The focus has been establishing vineyards with a view to the long term,’ she says. ‘What we plant now we will still have in 20-30 years.’ Cabernet Sauvignon is the largest portion, and they also have Cabernet Franc and Shiraz.

Boschendal are an important presence in Elgin. Their vineyard there is Whispering Winds, previously called Highfield.

Sparkling (Cap Classique) is also a focus. Their fizz is really good. ‘Next to time on lees, dosage is a massive contributor,’ says Danielle.


Boschendal Brut Rosé NV Western Cape
12% alcohol. 62% Pinot Noir, 38% Chardonnay. Disgorged in Jun 2023 (8 g/l), with a 2022 base (with the heat waves the colour becomes less stable, so this is a very, very pale colour). Minimum time on lees is 12 months, but for the NV they do 15-18 months, which is when they see the character of the mousse developing. Textural and bright with nice sweet pear and white peach fruit. It has nice acidity and a lovely mouthfeel, with a touch of sweetness countering the acidity. Has fine spices and a lovely texture. 92/100

Boschendal Grande Cuvée Brut 2016 Elgin
58% Pinot Noir, 42% Chardonnay, disgorged June 2022. Extra Brut. Lively aromatics with lovely lime, grapefruit and cherry. Lovely precision on the palate with vibrant, linear, spicy citrus and a touch of toastiness in the background. Crystalline with nice precision. Very fine and detailed with a slight salinity on the finish. Really fine. 93/100

Boschendal Chardonnay Pinot Noir 2023 Coastal Region
12% alcohol. Pale pink in colour, this is fresh and supple with a chalky edge to the citrus and pear fruit, with just a hint of cherry. Supple and appealing with brightness and focus. 91/100

Boschendal 1685 Sauvignon Blanc 2023 Cape Coast
13.5% alcohol. Durbanville with some Elgin. Small portion in foudre on fine lees. Lovely aromatics with elderflower and lime, as well as a touch of tomato leaf greens. The palate is fruit driven and lively with good acidity and nice fruit. Linear and focused with nice brightness, as well as a touch of chalkiness. 90/100

Boschendal Appellation Series Elgin Chardonnay 2021
13.5% alcohol. 70% new oak. This is really distinctive. It has some pear and peach richness, together with a touch of fig and toast, but also nice citrus brightness. The oak is definitely high in the mix, but it works well with the ripe fruit, and there’s a bright, stony finish to counter the toasty richness. 93/100

Boschendal 1685 Shiraz 2020 Cape Coast
14% alcohol. Made in 500 litre French oak, with 14% new. This is fresh and supple with sweet berry fruits, nice cherries, and a bit of richness. Fruity and supple with nice weight to the fruit. Nice fruit expression here. 89/100

Boschendal Appellation Series Elgin Pinot Noir 2021
13.5% alcohol. 225 and 300 litre barrels, mainly Louis Latour, which initially start out smoky, but then bring complexity. This is stylish and well balanced, showing a nice tension between the floral black cherry and red berry fruits, and then some spice and herbal quality. Has a sense of elegance but also some depth. Really fine and expressive in almost perfect balance. 94/100

Boschendal Nicolas 2021 Cape Coast
14% alcohol. Focus on Helderberg, with some Foure and a few other bits. Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz and Merlot with some Cabernet Franc and Merlot. Sweet blackcurrant fruit here with nice freshness, a hint of cured meat, and some fine spicy notes. Has nice freshness with a core of sweet fruit. Excellent balance here. 93/100

Boschendal Black Angus 2020 Stellenbosch
14% alcohol. Shiraz (58%), Cabernet Sauvignon (23%) and the balance Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot. Upper slopes of the Helderberg. Ripe and sweetly fruited with blackberry and black cherry with freshness and detail. It has a slight saltiness. There’s a supple character to the fruit with a touch of sour cherry on the finish. Nice chalky tannins here. 93/100

Boschendal Grande Syrah 2020 Stellenbosch
14% alcohol. 16-18 months in barrel, then 16 months in foudre before bottling. This is bold and rich with hints of tar and spice, with sour cherries, blackberries and blackcurrant. It’s juicy and refined, but also quite ripe. Has some leather, herb and gravel complexity under the fruit. 92/100

Boschendal Vin D’Or Noble Late Harvest 2022 Cape Coast
11% alcohol. Viognier and Riesling from Elgin with Riesling from Stellenbosch. Rich and spicy with lovely citrus, peach and apricot, showing good acidity and some chalky detail. Lovely citrus here with amazing intensity and focus. Bright finish. I love the balance here, finishing bright. 95/100

Older notes from November 2019:

1685 Sauvignon Blanc 2019
Elgin, Durbanville and Boschendal estate grapes. 180-200 000 litre blend. This is grassy and aromatic with some green nettly notes and lovely tropical, passionfruit detail. Some tomato leaf, too. This is nervous and fine, with lovely tension between the green and the more tropical notes. 90/100

1685 Chardonnay 2019
Mainly from Elgin and Stellenbosch. This is the wine that has grown the most: we can’t find enough vineyards to back this wine. It’s a 380 000 litre blend, all whole bunch pressed. Starts fermentation in tank and then goes to barrel. Lots of 500 litre barrels and some foudres, and playing around with amphora too. Textured and layered with lovely citrus drive, showing some lemon and grapefruit, and also a bit of peach. Has nice texture with some nuttiness. Lovely purity and nice acid drive. Great purity here: pristine, with lots of interest.  91/100

Bought a farm called Highfield in Elgin. Almost 10 C cooler than Stellenbosch in the summer.

Appellation Series Elgin Chardonnay 2016
22% new oak, 500 litre barrels, starts off with natural ferment then goes to barrel. Some  foudre and some amphora, too. 3500-7000 litres depending on the vintage. Juice settles clearly and naturally after whole-bunch pressing. Refined, crystalline and full flavoured, but beautifully balanced with spice, toast, nuts and a twist of honey. Really mineral and expressive, and drinking very well now. 94/100

Appellation Series Elgin Pinot Noir 2017
500 litre barrels, cold soak, not over working the cap. Have a nice flooding system for the pump overs that doesn’t disrupt the cap too much. Very pure and fresh with lovely red cherries and berries. Has a lovely chalky texture, with nice structure and some lovely silkiness to the fruit. Such finesse here with a mineral edge. Has lovely fruit but also lovely extra elements, too. 95/100

1685 Shiraz 2017
Most comes from the Helderberg, including some from Faure. Some in 300 litre barrels but moving over to 500 litre barrels. 20% new oak. Compact, sweetly fruited, nice graininess. There’s lovely purity to this wine, and also some spicy structure with subtle peppery hints. Juicy finish with nice brightness and some grip. Impressive for the price. 89/100

1685 Cabernet Sauvignon 2016
Stellenbosch is the region for Cabernet. Sweet, perfumed blackcurrant nose. Supple and fresh on the palate showing some richness, but also nice structure with some graphite/pencil shaving notes and sweet blackcurrant fruit. Has good structure and a grippy finish. Nicely fresh with great balance. 91/100

Boschendal Nicolas 2016
Maiden vintage, named after Nicolas De La Noy(??). A Bordeaux blend with Syrah (58%). Now bringing Syrah back to about 30% of the blend. 30% new oak. 20 000 litre blend. This is ripe and sleek, but also quite elegant. Has a slight chocolatey edge to the sweet cherry and berry fruits. Juicy and bright with some blackcurrant hints. Very well balanced and quite polished. 92/100

Boschendal Black Angus 2016 Stellenbosch
Partner wine of the Grand Syrah. 59% Shiraz with Bordeaux blend. Vineyard selection then barrels selection, 7500-13 000 litres. Ripe, polished and sleek but also fresh and expressive with nice sweet cherry and berry fruits. Very stylish with some blackcurrant notes. Well integrated oak. Very stylish and expressive, with purity and freshness as well as ripe fruit. So stylish. 94/100