Glenelly Estate is located on the southern slopes of the Simonsberg in Stellenbosch. Originally granted to a French Huguenot by Cape Governor Simon van der Stel in the late seventeenth century, it was purchased in 1865 by a British family, who ran the estate as a fruit farm for 138 years. In 2003, a new chapter in the history of Glenelly began, when the property was acquired by May-Eliane de Lencquesaing.
For over 30 years, Madame de Lencquesaing was the owner of the fabled Bordeaux Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande, and she is recognized worldwide as a tireless ambassador of Bordeaux. Struck by the tremendous potential of South Africa’s terroir and the beauty of the country and its people, she has now turned her energy and attention to the Cape. After conducting exhaustive studies of Glenelly’s terroir, Madame de Lencquesaing planted the 316 acre property to 148 acres of red varieties (Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc) and 15 acres of Chardonnay. Glenelly’s soils are primarily decomposed granite with a deep clay base. While most Stellenbosch vineyards are planted on western facing slopes, Glenelly is blessed with a range of aspects and sun exposures, including a high percentage of cooler eastern-facing slopes. Due to the estate’s location, nestled between two hills, the vineyards benefit from gentle breezes throughout the day. These influences combine to create a slightly cooler microclimate, allowing for slower ripening of the grapes resulting in wines of great structure, elegance and finesse.
Winemaker Luke O’Cuinneagain joined Glenelly in 2007, the year the first estate fruit came online. Prior to his arrival, he spent five years at neighboring Rustenberg Estate and abroad at such prestigious wineries as Screaming Eagle and Château Angelus.
Glenelly’s wines are fermented naturally and made with as little intervention as possible, seeking to achieve the perfect balance of French style and South African terroir. This Estate Reserve is comprised of 47% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23% Merlot, 15% Syrah, 11% Cabernet Franc, 4% Petit Verdot. Its roots lie in the classic blends of the 19th century when Syrah was added to the traditional varietals of the Left Bank. The grapes for this wine were hand sorted and gently crushed in stainless steel fermentation tanks. They were given a cold soak for three days before allowing the natural fermentation to start. Three pump overs a day were done on the tanks during fermentation, after which they underwent extended skin contact for 2-3 weeks.
The wine was placed in French oak barrels to undergo malolactic fermentation, matured for 18 months in French oak and racked on average every four months. This wine has intricate aromatics of red fruits, plum, and blackberries mingled with hints of savory spices, floral tones and touches of cedar. The palate is rich and layered, showing ripe dark fruit and pepper and supported by firm, balanced tannins. What a beautiful example of the extraordinary complexity achieved through bottle aging.